Tourist board defends cash grant

The Western Mail/April 13, 2004
By Martin Shipton

The Wales Tourist Board has defended its decision to make a grant of £11,000 to an organisation listed in a book about Britain's cults.

Earlier this month The Western Mail revealed how The Template Organisation had been allocated a total of £180,000 of public money to create a maximum of two jobs in the Objective One area at Waunifor, Capel Dewi, near Llandysul.

Now it has emerged that two years ago the group also received money from the WTB.

The Template Foundation, formerly known as Emin,was founded by a bank-rupt encyclopaedia sales-man called Raymond Armin who died in Florida two years ago.

Material produced by the group says he discovered "the Eminent Way," later shortened to Emin, while sitting under an oak tree on Hampstead Heath in London.

Author William Shaw has told how he paid £45 for a 10-lesson course called "The Search for Truth" in which he learned "to sense the extent of his aura by chanting 'nerve, nerve, nerve' with his hands extended.

Ian Haworth of the Cult Information Centre, an organisation that offers advice about fringe religious and therapy groups said, "This is a group about which we have received a number of complaints. To think that taxpayers' money is being given to it causes me great concern."

Ceredigion AM Elin Jones has asked Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies to investigate why grants were paid to the group, saying she is baffled how the organisation will contribute to the area's GDP.

The Welsh Assembly Government has defended the allocation of funds, saying The Template Foundation is both a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.

Colin Cook, who manages the project for The Template Foundation, told us the money would be used for a purpose-built building on the group's estate that would be available for the local community.

Asked about the criticisms of the group he said, "You can make anything of anything if you like.

"The sort of people that come to our centre are professional people in their 50s and 60s.

"They are not young and impressionable. We are not into the occult - our courses involve a search for the meaning of life."

Confirming that it had also funded the group, a spokeswoman for the Wales Tourist Board said, "The Wales Tourist Board gave a grant of £11,000 to The Template Foundation two years ago, towards a project to upgrade six existing self-catering properties.

"The project gained support from the local Carmarthenshire Focus Group, who commented that improvement of existing self-catering accommodation was to be welcomed.

"As part of the application process, all applicants have to satisfy rigorous selection criteria; on this occasion The Template Foundation did so.

The Wales Tourist Board monitors its investment on an annual basis and we will therefore look into this matter as a matter of course."

Penri James, the Plaid Cymru group leader on Ceredigion County Council said, "I am very concerned about the public money paid to this organisation but it is clear that the Council has no intention of investigating this matter further."

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