Penpont was again the stunning backdrop for a Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) away day at the weekend [13th May].This privately owned grade1 listed building has been home to the same family since it was built in 1666 and when the current owners took over in 1992 they decided to open it to the public. The house is the centre piece of a remarkable group of buildings spanning various periods, including a church, Dower house, stables, workshops, a dovecote on stilts and a 19 century conservatory and is in beautiful grounds with a maze, magnificent topiary and a working rural estate and market garden.
People seeking asylum or refuge in Swansea and neighbouring Ystradgynlais were treated to a day of fun, games and feasting – including a visit from a clown, pony rides, pizza and a tour of the estate’s grounds.
HBTSR’s secretary Ailsa Dunn said: “Vina and Gavin were the perfect hosts, calmly accepting hundreds of people wandering around their beautiful home and grounds and encouraging all their friends and families to join in.
“The sunshine was such a bonus and, with over 60 supporters waiting and ready to serve drinks, biscuits, cakes and stews, the day was set up with a large range of activities and time to chat.”
'We are extremely grateful to many people including local Brownie and Guide packs, Sennybridge school and Aldi who all donated food, sanitary towels, nappies and toiletries for the visitors on the day, with enough to send back to Swansea for new arrivals.'
Swansea Asylum Seekers Support Group’s Maria Nicholas said: “The need is huge for these days. We are begged by those leaving, to be put on the list for the next trip. These respite trips are over-subscribed and there are always those who are disappointed. A lovely day out in the country does so much for the morale.
“As long-term volunteers we listen to each one telling us why they and their family ‘ need’ these days so much. All have valid reasons and it is a difficult and challenging task to turn away some and tell them they will be on the next one.”
As well as ‘world famous and internationally renowned Clown’ Goffee, activities included kite-making, printing, face-painting, leather-making,spinning, pony rides and jewellery-making. Once again a young man who is a destitute asylum seeker offered free hair cuts as his way of thanking people who have helped and welcomed him.
“It was a superb day,” HBTSR's chair Margaret Blake said. “Alex Benfield’s pizza oven was in action throughout the day, organic handwash generously donated by HerbFarmacy made it into each visitors’ bag and, as soon as the bus arrived, 36 bags and many boxes of eggs were loaded on for people to take home. This will make the week ahead a little sweeter.
These events are good for everyone who joins in, giving extra community cohesion, a chance to meet people from different cultures and an opportunity to share our own good fortune with people much less well off. And have a great day out!''
Grateful thanks to Alex – pizza making, Athene – leather engraving, Gareth – green woodworker
Musicians: Paul, Al, Simon,Rachel – kite making, Lynn & Vina – face painting
Claire and the Tawe Guild – weaving, Susan and Chris – printing, Val – pond dipping
Goffee the Clown, Pat – fly fishing, Jackie and the kitchen team, Chee Ai – chilli preserves making
Kate – pony rides, Aldi for food donations and all who came and helped in any way. Above all thanks to Vina and Gavin Hogg for the use of their superb facilities and grounds.
Further details about HBTSR are on www. hbtsr.org.uk where people can sign up for more information and newsletters.