Flags, parades and bells mark St David's Day

Military medics held a St David's Day parade in Risca, Caerphilly county

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St David's Day celebrations have been held around Wales to mark the national day of the country's patron saint.

In Caerphilly county more than 70 Army medics who served in Afghanistan marched through Risca.

First Minister Carwyn Jones had already celebrated by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street on Friday.

The Welsh flag flew above Downing Street while a family fun day was held at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The parade in Risca by 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital was led by the Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Welsh.

The volunteers - nurses, doctors, dentists and paramedics in the NHS in Wales in civilian life - each received a leek as part of St David's Day tradition, as well as their campaign medals.

Nursing Officer Capt Lyndon Davies said: "It's a tremendous honour to have the privilege of marching through Risca today.

"It's St David's Day so that makes it extra special for a Welsh unit, to be able to receive our medals on St David's Day."

'Maximise' opportunities

Carwyn Jones delivered his St David's Day message at the end of a five-day visit to the United States.

He said: "St David's Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate all the things that make us Welsh - from our language and culture, to sport and spectacular scenery, we have a lot to be proud of.

Carwyn Jones rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange

"This year we have even more to shout about as we have proved that Wales can punch above its weight on the global stage. We have shed old stereotypes to emerge as a strong contender in business.

"The DT100 festival, a year-long celebration of Dylan Thomas' life and works, is also showcasing Wales as an international cultural hub.

"And while we have achieved much, there are many significant events in the pipeline that will boost our profile on the world stage even further.

"This autumn the Nato summit will be held in Newport. This is possibly the biggest diplomatic gathering to be held in Britain, the fact they chose Wales speaks volumes.

St David's day reveller Tom Bown joins the dragon parade in St Davids, Pembrokeshire

"If President Obama's attendance is confirmed, it will be the first visit by a serving US President to Wales, meaning the eyes of the world really will be on us, and we fully intend to maximise the opportunities created by this.

The Welsh flag was hoisted above Downing Street at 07:45 GMT.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "St David's Day is a time to celebrate Wales' rich and illustrious history, its beautiful language and its cultural heritage.

"Yet this year, we also look forward to a time where Wales will have the opportunity to showcase its credentials on a truly international stage.

"In September, the NATO Summit will be hosted in south Wales, providing everyone - from business leaders to school children - with a unique opportunity to present the very best of Wales to a global audience."

St David's Day events and festivals around Wales include a parade in Wrexham with a food and craft market in Queen's Square and a Wacky Welsh Arts & Crafts Session at Mold Library, Flintshire.

Welsh people also celebrated St David's Day overseas.

Welsh lamb and Welsh beef was on the menu for more than 350 expats at the Dubai Welsh Society's St David's Day Ball.

The event included a poetry competition in honour of Dylan Thomas's centenary celebrations, a harpist and an appearance by the male voice choir Wails from Wales.

Proceeds from the charity evening are going to Ty Hafan Children's Hospice and the Dubai School for Special Needs.

Welsh men from the Royal Air Force's 904 Expeditionary Air Wing based at Kandahar in Afghanistan took time out from supporting operations to celebrate St David's Day.

Avionics technician Cpl Leigh Jones, 32, from Aberdare, said: "If I was at home and had free time I'd hope to be playing a match for Aberdare Rugby Club and spending time with my wife, Beth."

How did you celebrate St David's Day? Send a photo of your day to newsonline.wales@bbc.co.uk - please include details of who you are and where the photo was taken.

Cpls Leigh Jones and Michael Skirving RAF technicians Leigh Jones from Aberdare and Michael Skirving from Saundersfoot, Pembrokshire, fly the flag in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Natural Resources and Food Minister Alun Davies addressed the Dubai Welsh Society St David's Day dinner Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies addressed a St David's Day dinner in Dubai

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