Hay ,Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees [ AKA HBTSR] ’s volunteers pulled out all the stops for Sunday’s memorable welcome day in Llangorse .
The charity’s army of organisers, cooks and washer-uppers – and more than 50 members of the local community – welcomed more than 50 visitors who are refugees or seeking asylum and are now living in Swansea.
As well as preparing food and activities there were also fears about the Coronavirus to contend with, and preparations for the day began well in advance.
HBTSR’s Ailsa Dunn said: “We rely on having many active and sympathetic supporters and know that somehow they will all work happily together to make an absolutely wonderful day possible.
“The organising committee excelled themselves again in arranging a day in Llangors Community Hall coordinated by both Llangors and Llanfihangel communities. Even the concerns about Covid-19 were considered and planned for.”
Music was provided by the Crannog Ceilidh Band for dancing and there were crafts, children’s toys, football, chat and hand massages. Visitors were able to take advantage of the sunshine for a tour of the village and lake and there was also a chance to visit the local church.
“ We were invited to St Paulinus’ Church,” Ailsa said. “The congregation was awaiting us and a small orchestra of cello, flute, recorder and keyboard played lovely music as we arrived and throughout the time we were there.
“We shared prayers for peace in a number of languages and danced in the aisles as we marvelled at the beautiful old building that for a short time gave sanctuary and hope to people from at least seven different nations and a number of religions. Many thanks to Rev Trina Lodge for arranging this multi faith worship and to the congregation for a warm welcome.”
One visitor said: “Most of our guests were newcomers. They were quite surprised to experience such a welcome day out in beautiful Llangors. The church visit was the best part of the day for me, it was heart-touching – to feel welcome and accepted. We really enjoyed the good food and entertainment. It was a brilliant day.”
“It was wonderful to see friendships being renewed, being made and experiences shared and for a while bad memories fading into the background,” Ailsa said.
“We were asked and were able to supply some individual bags of goods for people to take home thanks to Derek from Hay Delicatessen and many donations from both Llangors school and local residents of Llangors and Llanfihangel. The day ended too soon with everyone wanting more time.'
THANKS to Melrose, Alison, Tina, Jonnie, Penny and Mike for coordination and hard work. To their teams of helpers including Val, Tim, Allie, Lynne, Rhiannon, Claire, Robert and Lawrence .
To Alex, Kathy and family for flatbread creation and face painting.
To Sue B for Dream pillows- Draw your hopes for the future onto the pillow slip and sleep on it and who knows it may just come true.
To Avril , Helen and Ellen for crafts.
To Yolanda for hand massage
To Colin, Wally and Martin for leading the walk.
To Rev Trina Lodge and Kelvin Richards for the multi faith and multi lingual service and to the congregation for waiting for us and welcoming us.
To Jane for use of her playpen and toys.
To Philip and his band of welcomers including Margaret and Lawrence
To The Crannog Ceilidh band for giving us such a great time that no one wanted to leave…
To all of the many people who made cakes, biscuits, stews and salads – everything was appreciated..[ so amazing to have Vegan and Gluten free cakes…this allowed several people to eat cake who wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance]
To the kind donors of gifts and foods- these will make life just a bit better. Its hard to stockpile even a little extra on £36 a week.
To Claire and John from The Shop in Talgarth thanks for giving us a good deal on fruit and thanks to Sarah for her generosity.
To Derek from the Delicatessen in Hay for the enormous sacks of Rice, Cous cous and Bulgar wheat and the large amount of spices that were much appreciated by our visitors and will be seized upon with great enthusiasm by people at the drop ins.
Thanks to Thanu for all her hard work that ensured the coach was full and that every family and every single person had a gift bag. And as always thanks to Maria and Phil for their help and support and for transporting a car laden with gifts for people back in Swansea.
And finally thanks to everyone who came for making such a memorable day possible. One man spoke for all when he said 'you don't know how much this means to me to have had such warmth and friendship.'If anyone wants to know more about HBTSR please look on facebook or visit our website hbtsr.org.