A number of the largest venues in Wales opened their doors to accommodate the public – but instead of offering conference or meeting spaces, entertainment or sport, the venues were turned into field hospitals in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Principality Stadium
The Principality Stadium – usually a 75,000 capacity venue, in the heart of the capital city Cardiff, with 113 hospitality suites and its retractable roof, was transformed into Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig - Dragon's Heart Hospital. The pitch was covered with one of the largest tents in Europe, which had capacity for over 2,000 patients, freeing up local hospitals to carry on providing ongoing care. The opening of Dragon’s Heart Hospital was marked by HRH Prince of Wales.
Mark Williams, Stadium Manager: “To witness the transformation of the stadium into a field hospital in just a matter of weeks is staggering. It reaffirms what is possible when people come together.
“I’m immensely proud of my team for taking on this unprecedented challenge with such professionalism. We frequently transform the stadium from sports arena to music venue and back again and have seen some of the world’s biggest bands perform here, from the likes of Coldplay to the Rolling Stones, but nothing has ever been done on this scale and at this speed.
“I know I speak for all of my team when I say we feel privileged to be able to offer the stadium to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and the people of Wales at this time and we will continue to work alongside the National Health Service in the fight against Covid-19.”
In Llandudno, Venue Cymru was transformed into the first temporary hospital in North Wales. Usually a theatre, conference centre and arena, the venue was transformed to provide 350 beds to support Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board during the pandemic.
Cllr Sam Rowlands, Leader of Conwy County Borough Council: “We’re eager to do all we can to support our partners at this challenging time, and Venue Cymru was deemed a suitable choice because it offers sufficient space and infrastructure.
“Some of our services have temporarily closed and many of our staff have been redeployed to focus on our priority services, which we want to keep delivering for as long as possible. Repurposing buildings such as Venue Cymru is a key way we can help support the response effort in North Wales.”
The Vale Resort
The Vale Resort, on the outskirts of Cardiff, best known for housing training facilities for Wales’ national rugby and football teams, with capacity to cater for up to 700 delegates, 143 four star bedrooms plus Wales’ largest health spa and two Championship golf courses. Following the outbreak, the resort was adapted into a field hospital to support the NHS, providing an additional 290 hospital beds to be used to support the work of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board.
The Vale Resort also transformed their Hensol Castle Gin Distillery to produce antibacterial hand sanitiser after receiving accreditation from the World Health Authority.