Chris O’Brien, known to many as O B, ex captain of Gwernyfed RFC, Senior Policy Officer with Brecon Beacon’s National Park, is running the virtual London Marathon on Sunday 3rd October for Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees[ HBTSR]. Obtaining permissions for his route from the Canal and Rivers trust, Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust alone sounds like a marathon task but the run itself is enormously challenging. His 30.7 mile run will start and end at Brecon Cathedral taking in Torpantau and Pen y Fan with over 1200 metres ascent/descent. Chris has been preparing for this challenge by running daily since early January covering over 1237 miles which is the distance from his home to North Africa where many of the people seeking sanctuary in South Wales come from.
Chris recalls racing in the 2017 Mill Race in Talgarth with an asylum seeking man who had been enabled to visit and take part by HBTSR and the Talgarth Mill. At the time he thought that this was such a kind way to welcome and help someone feel more normal. The events of the past year made him determined to do what he could to help raise the profile of a group seeking to support and help some of the most disadvantaged members of UK society.
‘ We are so fortunate to live in a beautiful area with kind ,generous people and it seems only right that we should try to help those people forced to flee from their homes in fear for their lives,’ remarked Chris, ‘I am glad that I have the freedom to work, run and live with my wife Caroline and daughter Deryn. It’s hard to consider that in some countries they would be confined to the home, unable to work or go to school. I know that any money I raise for HBTSR will be used to help people seeking sanctuary in South Wales to settle into their new homes and rebuild their lives.’
HBTSR continues to help support people seeking asylum in South Wales by providing money for particular hardships, buying phone top ups to allow people to maintain contact with families and education and by occasional social outings when Covid restrictions allow. They will also do what they can to support Powys County Council in welcoming the initial group of Afghan families who will make their new homes in North Powys. HBTSR also continues to highlight concerns about the Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament which may criminalise people fleeing in fear of their lives and not show the compassionate and hospitable response that most Welsh people would wish.
Chris asks that anyone wanting to support his run makes a payment by bank transfer to HBTSR (sort code 20-39-64 / account number 83085120) or sends a cheque to HBTSR at 1b the Pavement Hay on Wye HR3 5BU. Anyone wanting more information about HBTSR can visit the website https://hbtsr.cityofsanctuary.org or write to email@example.com