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Talgarth Away Day

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Gwernyfed RFC, and lots of us

Gwernyfed Rugby Football Club, generous provider of the room for our monthly business meetings, is a friend to HBTS4R. The club went the extra mile for us on the last Saturday in July, and allowed us every room they have. I’ve only been to two business meetings but if they’re typical, numbers hover at about 15. Opening their doors for our Talgarth Away Day, a respite break for refugees and asylum seekers living in Swansea, Gwernyfed saw a few more than that – on the coach, 45 refugees, from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran and Syria, and five volunteers from Swansea refugee support groups; on the ground, more than fifty volunteers from HBTS4R itself, from the local churches and from the community. Together, we overran the place.

The coach brought our visitors into Talgarth car park at about 11.30. In sunshine! The last Away Day, in Llangors, floated on misty Welsh summer drizzle, so the sunshine today was a special treat. Fifty-odd volunteers perked up as we heard the coach had arrived. Some of us went to meet it, others of us waited at the club, arrayed along the building’s façade; some grinning, in anticipation of meeting friends; others, first-time Away Day volunteers, wondering what today would be like. Among this motley welcoming committee, were Councillor Rosemarie Harris  and our former MP, Roger Williams. Our guests started to appear, in a succession of little groups, some old hands striding confidently, scanning for familiar faces; others approaching shyly, newcomers wondering, perhaps, like our first-timer volunteers, what this day would bring.

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The brunch team, and Roger Williams

Guests and volunteers mingled. Bodies jumbled in doorways. A musical chorus in multiple languages of laughter, cries of recognition, greetings, courtesies, catch-up conversations, repartee and banter. Jan Hughes, from Talgarth, had recruited her friends to make refreshments for the visitors on arrival; a brunch of tea, coffee, cake and bananas. Stoic volunteers carried trays of tea and coffee mugs through the undulating throng. One of the volunteers told me, slightly flushed, that the plan had been for a mug-carrying volunteer to be followed at the elbow by a milk and sugar-carrying one, to save people crowding for ages in a queue at one table, but that plan bit the dust fairly swiftly, defeated by the size of the crowd and the unpredictability of limb movements when limb owners were delighted, excited, enthusiastic, reuniting with friends.

This Away Day was different from others. For the first time, our guests would not be spending the day together, in one place, contained in a coach or a venue or a single guided activity. Virginia Brown, HBTS4R member and today’s coordinator, had felt that the little town of Talgarth, with its pretty stream, winding streets and lovely local walks and gardens, nestling in the lee of the Black Mountains, gazing at the Brecon Beacons; had the potential to provide refugees with a memorable respite from the city. Virginia approached Jacqui Wildingthen Deputy Mayor (now Mayor) of Talgarth, told her about the group and the away days, and asked: ‘What d’you think about doing one in Talgarth?’  She hadn’t known what the response would be. ‘I knew that to do one in Talgarth, Talgarth has to be agreeable’ she told me.  Would it, this small, close-knit community, be agreeable?  Jacqui had no doubt. ‘Why don’t you do it with Talgarth Sport?’ she said: ‘Then the refugees can do sports too, can’t they?’

Talgarth Festival of Sport  is an annual 3-day event organised by Talgarth and District Sport and Community Organisation. Open to anyone, and aiming to encourage people to ‘have a go’ and have fun, it offers a range of taster sessions and demonstrations, across the spectrum of sport and exercise, and runs competitions for all age groups and abilities. Virginia took Jacqui’s idea to the Talgarth Sport Committee, and that fixed it: our coach-load of visitors this time was going to be dispersed throughout the town, participating side by side with townspeople and visitors from elsewhere in Wales, in a range of sports and other activities that had not been laid on for them, but were an already-occurring community event, open to all comers.


Golfers, this way!

Virginia’s next challenge: How to accomplish this dovetailing of a refugee respite day with a community sports day? We have an assorted 50+ people from Swansea, and we have a multitude of different activities, in a variety of different venues, to spread them through. How to coordinate crowds of people who don’t speak English as their first language, and some not at all, into choosing their activity from a menu of possibilities, then into groups for specific chosen activities, then get them to those activities, when those activities are spread about the town in different places, distant from the club in which your event is based? If you’re clever, what you do is you recruit a LOT of volunteers, and you have one volunteer to lead and coordinate each activity, and you make a simple sign, on a stick, with the name of the activity on it, which the volunteer holds aloft; and you station your stick-carrying volunteers in a big circle encircling your amorphous crowd of visitors, and you instruct your visitors to have a wander around the sticks, to choose the activity they want to do and to station themselves next to the holder of the stick denoting their chosen activity. Virginia and Wayne, our old friend from refugee support group Unity in Diversity, are both clever. And Wayne has a good shouting voice. Hence, some time later, several little processions, each led by a sign on a stick, left Gwernyfed RFC and headed variously for the town playing fields (for football, hockey, golf); the village hall (fencing, judo, badminton, zumba); and to Pwll Y Wrach nature reserve, for a walk.

Nobody, Virginia told me, talking to me about the feat of organisation and liaison this day entailed, could have been more supportive and welcoming, and this applies to the townspeople of Talgarth, too. I guess that they are not accustomed to 50+ strangers, from all over the world, speaking all sorts of languages, descending upon their sports day, playing games and sports with their children, dancing in their zumba class, challenging their local football team. It would not have been shocking had there been consternation, reservation or doubt in the townspeoples’ response. There was none of those things; or, if there was, nobody let it show.

I watched some of the fencing, in the village hall. Refugees played local people, adults and children. Refugees and local people, adults and children, watched. Steve, from Ddraig Wern Gwernyfed Fencing Club, instructed with casual, smiling ease.DSC_0720

I watched the hockey, grown refugee men playing local children of varying ages, as parents spectated. The men didn’t ‘let the kids win’, but they were fit, healthy adult men; if they’d played at full strength they’d have flattened the children. So they must have been holding back a little. It was subtle, skilled and clever; they gave the children a good game. The children threw themselves into it, unperturbed that these men, these strangers whom they were playing looked and sounded so different from them. Children connect naturally with the human in everyone they meet. It’s external messages that make children doubtful, suspicious or rejecting. Those responses to others don’t arise naturally in them.

I watch the hockey with A from Sudan. In Sudan, A tells me, families are eight times the size of families here and at an event like this, there would be eight times as many children. We talk a little about why this is so, scratching the surface of a topic that could occupy two people who knew each other a little better, and spoke each other’s languages more fluently, for hours or days. We talk, a little, about different childhoods, in his country and mine; and what technology might mean for child development, for the future. We talk about the weather. We are in Britain, of course we do. He laughs as he tells me how surprised he used to be, when he first arrived, to hear British people say how happy they were it was summer; how he kept his thoughts to himself, as he surveyed the grey clouds, and shivered in the chill air, and asked himself: ‘Summer? Where?’

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The universal language; refugees and locals

Talgarth Sport featured much football, and among our refugee friends are many keen footballers. But the games were touted as ‘junior football’; tasters for children. ‘Will it be okay?’ Virginia had wondered, picturing grown men joining in with children’s football games. Lawrence, HBTS4R Treasurer, led a procession of refugees to join the groups of local children also headed for football and, as we might expect from the universal language, it all just slipped into place. Refugees started kicking a ball around, children joined in and several spontaneous games of mixed teams developed organically from there. As was happening on the hockey pitch, men and boys played good games together. ‘The camaraderie was wonderful’ said Lawrence.

The zumba that our visitors took part in is a regular class that happens weekly in Talgarth. ‘This might be the first time men have been seen in the zumba class in Talgarth’, smiled HBTS4R’s Rachel. It must have been a strange experience to the regulars, to be carrying out such a demanding, effortful, perspiration-generating activity in company with a multicultural bunch of young men, strangers, who were, by all accounts, very good at it. It was generous of them to accommodate it. Over and over again, volunteers remarked on the hospitality, goodwill and general, undramatic, taking of things in their stride shown by Talgarth townspeople, all day. If ‘fair play and a friendly spirit are the key words for Talgarth Sport’, as its Facebook page says, everyone more than met the standard, today.


The mill in action


‘A did more talking than walking’, said Gez ‘And I took photos’, said A

Having an Away Day dovetailing with a Festival of Sport is a great idea, but … what if some of our guests don’t like sport? Virginia had thought of this. Enter Rob Hughes, a walk leader with the Walkers Are Welcome initiative which supports the annual Talgarth Walking Festival. Rob agreed to lead a walk for our visitors today and devised ‘The Water Mill and The Water Fall’. It started with a tour of the working mill, in the middle of the town. Flour from The Mill makes the bread sold by local cafe The Baker’s Table, and tours of the mill in operation are open to the public. Liz Rose runs The Mill, and welcomed our group. Ailsa Dunn, of HBTS4R, was one of them. Another was a man from Eritrea. They chatted as they toured the mill. He’s travelled a lot, this man; seen much of the world; and he said: ‘This is the best day of my life.’ Ailsa said: ‘Do you actually mean that?’ He said: ‘Yes. I’ve never seen anything like this.’  Memorable? Check.


Pwll Y Wrach, the witches’ pool

Next on Rob’s itinerary was Pwll Y Wrach nature reserve, acres of ancient woodland gracing the lower slopes of the range of mountains beloved to us as the Dragon’s Back, down to the River Enig. Take the old hospital road out of the town; rise for a mile, to the treeline; then follow a lovely woodland walk, cool and leafy, until you reach the shimmering waterfall and the deep pool it tips into (‘Pwll Y Wrach’ is Welsh for ‘Witches’ Pool’) before it returns, as a gently-flowing stream hopping with fish, to the town. The walking group, entranced by the waterfall, are the last visitors back to the club for lunch (of which more later), and I am on my way to another event, stuffed to the gills, when I encounter three walkers – A, from Iran, Melrose from Talgarth and Gez from Bronllys – returning. We stop and shoot the breeze. ‘It was beautiful’ says A, a lover of plants and flowers. ‘New forest, everywhere green. And the waterfall, like a baby Victoria Falls’. And, he said, like he was about to deliver the punchline: ‘It was SUNNY.’

A has a feather in his baseball cap. I notice it as we part. ‘A’, I call: ‘where did you get the feather?’ ‘Oh, killed a kite’, he says casually, deadpan. Killed a kite?! He’s joking. He remembers our conversation, last time we met, about animal rights; he remembers the kites soaring in the sky as we walked, and how I love them; and he is wickedly comical. I roll my eyes, but I’m touched that he remembers. People aren’t just going through the motions, on these respite days. It’s not just polite small-talk. Human connection is being forged and we are remembering each other; shared interests, shared passions, shared off-colour senses of humour.

The lunch they were heading for was something special. Rachel Giaconne was at the rugby club for 9am on the day, and was cooking, with her Mum Pauline, before that, conjuring two aromatic stews full of the flavours of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa. The fishcakes in tomato sauce spoke of the Ethiopian berbere spice that Rachel brings home from her journeys FullSizeRender (4)there and the spicy aubergine stew recalled the Afghani and Iraqi cuisine in which aubergine is a prominent feature. Alongside was green salad with pomegranate seeds; hummus home-made by Nansi Evans, a local retired GP who volunteered with us today; and purple potato and dill salad, home-made by Jan Shivel, Talgarth’s librarian, with ingredients fresh from her impressive garden (which she opened to our visitors after lunch).


The lunch team

There were mountains of pitta bread. The manager of the Coop in Talgarth, Christopher Gunning, had agreed to give pitta breads sufficient for 60 people. When Virginia rolled up on Friday morning, Chris was in a meeting. She came back later but Chris was still in a meeting. The shopworker said: but we have your pitta breads. ‘Off he goes’, said Virginia; ‘and came back with five BOXES of pitta breads. Not 60, but 360!’

And there were middle-eastern apricots. The apricots, a creation of Rachel’s, were so delectable that I got the recipe. Here it is:

Rachel’s middle-eastern apricot recipe:

500 mls water

Zest of half a lemon

Squeeze of lemon juice

I tablespoon of crushed cardamom seeds

A little piece of vanilla pod, or a drop of vanilla essence

A piece of cinnamon

25-35 dried apricots

Cream, whipped

Put everything in a pan and bring to the boil

Simmer for 10 more minutes

Cool and drain

If you want to make a sauce, save the drained juice and boil a little longer, to thicken

Put a dollop of whipped cream into each

Drizzle sauce over


I ate my lunch and my several thousand creamy apricots with K, who is from Syria. I chose the aubergine stew and so did he. I piled on extra chillies and so did he. He has a tiny bit of English. I have no Arabic. But we have enough shared language to agree that there really are very few foods that you can’t successfully add chilli to.

Talgarth Sport Committee, like Jacqui Wilding, had upped the ante on HBTS4R’s original plan of a simple away day in Talgarth. Do the refugees have a football team? Asked the committee; because if they do, we could have a match: the refugees’ team v. Talgarth Rovers FC.


Unity in Diversity FC

The refugees do, indeed, have a team. Unity in Diversity FC began life nearly two years ago to, says UiD’s website, ‘promote and celebrate fun, friendship and healthy active participation’. To date, they have played Swansea University staff team, the Swansea Panthers and the Wales Supporters XI (arranged by Barbara, a member of HBTS4R). So on the last Saturday in July, the middle day of Talgarth Sport 2016, they played Talgarth Rovers FC. As they ate their brunch in the morning, the coach gave the team a stern warning: on no account must any of them eat after 1pm. Food will be saved for anyone who can’t eat before 1pm and if that’s you, you can’t eat til after the match! Stitches are a sure way to lose!


Unity in Diversity FC and Talgarth Rovers FC

Kick-off was at 3pm. Your writer knows nothing about football, so she isn’t going to make a fool of herself, and annoy you, by trying to write as though she does. You aren’t going to be getting any kind of enlightened account of the match, here. I enjoyed the look of the thing: Talgarth Rovers in silvery grey, offset by Brit-white skin; UiD’s various shades of brown skin, in vivid orange and blue (their bright strips were gifted by Wales Supporters XI). And the sound of the thing: voices calling out in Welsh-accented English, African-accented English, Tigrinya (Eritrea), Amaric (Ethiopia) and Arabic (Sudan). And the good nature, camaraderie and effort on both sides.

I stand at the edge to watch, just behind the goalpost, with H from Eritrea. His friend, in goals, is also from Eritrea. He is also not a goalkeeper; he is a striker. Slight; his gloves are bigger than he is. A third Eritrean friend, M, calls to Goalie from the sidelines. Goalie calls back, grinning, gesticulating with his comedy-huge gloves. H joins in, laughing. I assume the two on the sidelines are calling encouragement, motivation, support, but I have, in H, my own personal interpreter so I don’t continue long in this delusion. Goalie lets in a goal. ‘Next time you ask for a cigarette,’ shouts M, ‘I’m saying NO!’

‘I’m just thirsty!’ protests Goalie.


‘Remember you’re a goalie, not a striker!’

‘Thirsty?’ shouts M: ‘You’ve only been playing 5 minutes. How can you be thirsty?’

Goalie does a little dance in the goal. H tells me this is a traditional dance in Eritrea, to express happiness. H tells me that, in Eritrea, M was a famous volleyball player, and that he, H, was a good football player, playing for a town team. H tells me he can no longer play football, because of an injury to the muscle in his calf. H plays volleyball now, in Swansea, with M. I don’t ask about the injury; when you’re talking to refugees from countries where people are tortured, you have to think about what you’re asking.

The Talgarth players get dangerously close. The UiD players repel several attempts at goal. Goalie spends quite a bit of the time that all this is going on out in the field. ‘FORGET YOU’RE A STRIKER!’, bellows M. ‘Today you are a GOALIE! Defend the GOAL!’ The ball nearly makes it into the net. A UiD boot gets in its way and sends it back into the field. ‘Where was the goalie?!’ shouts M: ‘Playing striker, that’s where!’

H is translating in pieces, through giggles. Goalie is answering back through giggles, too. The camaraderie is warm, funny, infectious, speaking of long-standing friendship. But they didn’t know each other in Eritrea, H tells me; they met in Swansea, thrown together by circumstance and need.

Today, for the first time, all but one of our guests are men. Earlier, I walked up to the town hall with T, the exception, also from Eritrea. “T, you’re the only girl!” I said. “I know. I am crying” she said, around a beaming grin. I met T, young Mum of baby T, at the Llangors Away Day. Baby T was born in this country. His Mum made the journey pregnant and alone. She arrived in Swansea to find a newly-formed, thrown-together community of other displaced east African souls. I watched, last time and this, this makeshift family of men from Eritrea and Ethiopia taking care of baby T; pushing him in his pushchair, carrying him, talking to him, playing with him, making him a part of everything they did. Wayne told me this is the way it always is. This child’s is a world of interaction, validation, attention and warmth. They don’t make any kind of a big deal about it. They just do it, casually, with love.

At the side of the match, a little distance removed, another match sprang, organically. This was played by several refugees, mostly Iranians and, again, local children. ‘The Iranians are very good footballers’, H told me. I recall Lawrence telling me that one of them is approaching professional standard. ‘But they don’t come to practice’, H said, smiling: ‘That’s why they are not on the team.’ Local photographer Ann Dierykx’s 9-nearly-10 year-old played with the Iranians in the side-match. ‘For about 4 hours! He was thrilled: grown men, who wanted to play football with him for four hours!’ The next day he asked her when the men were coming back. She said: ‘I don’t know; they live in Swansea.’ ‘Can’t we go to Swansea and find them?’ he asked. ‘Do you know where they live?’

H and I talked together for a long time. Volunteer Nansi joined us, delving into her memory for phrases from long-forgotten Tigrinya learned years ago when she worked in Eritrea. H was laughing and talking, cracking jokes with Goalie and M, translating for me, and delighting in Nansi’s rusty Tigrinya. Our conversation was light, superficial. But as happens when you spend an extended period with someone you’ve just met, small-talk expands into conversation about things that matter. One of us asked H what he did in Eritrea and he replied that he was in the military, but something changed as he said it. Something subtle closed in his face. What had been bright, unclouded, suddenly seemed not so. One of us asked: ‘A soldier?’ H said quietly: ‘No. Personnel.’ Gradually, some of his story emerged; a story of institutional repression, denial of universal human rights, disregard of due process, coercion and secrecy and governmental abuse; of life lived in limbo, learning no new skills, no new knowledge; of being unable to trust; unable to oppose, protest or change anything. He didn’t seem reluctant to talk about it, but he elaborated slowly, as though testing the water; or himself, or us. Perhaps he was thinking: we were nice British people, asking questions, seeming to be interested; but were we, really? Perhaps he was wondering: should he talk, on this bright, fun, frivolous day, about these things, that matter so much? He did talk, pain playing over his fine-featured face; about what it’s like to live, year after dragging year, under repression; unable to debate, to share ideas, to explore and develop, to express yourself fully, to learn from others, to express what you truly think or feel.

Talgarth won 10-2. Whether or not UiD had obeyed the no-eating-after-1 injunction is as yet unknown.


The high tea team

We returned to the club for high tea. Brunch had been at 11.25. Lunch had gone out at 12.30 and had been a long, leisurely, seconds-and-thirds affair. But who’s counting? There’s always room for tea. Especially when tea looks like this.

Jan Matthews,Tea Coordinator, had put the word out among her parish friends that cake was needed. The ladies who made cake for the Llangors Away Day were a hard act to follow; I thought I might never see an array of cake like that again. Wrong! The ladies of Talgarth United Free Church and St Gwendoline’s came up trumps: we came back from the match to a sea of banana cake, rich fruit cake, scones, muffins, fairy cakes, rich chocolate cake, coffee and walnut cake, airy Victoria sponge, chocolate crispie cakes. ‘Talgarth is a close community’, Jan told me: ‘People help each other out.’


After tea, we haul our stuffed tummies to the upstairs room, where tables are laden with toiletries, clothes and shoes; dried food, chocolate and allotment vegetables, for our visitors to take home. There are lots of great clothes, and no changing rooms; people try things on over FullSizeRender (8)
the clothes they are wearing, estimating fit. Rachel rushed home for a mirror, an oversight that we won’t forget, next time; we all need to survey the cut of our jib while trying new clothes on! At the toiletries table, I chatted with J from Nigeria. J, a UiD player, was one of the really, really good footballers on the pitch this afternoon. This was his first time on an Away Day. ‘I only came to play football’ J told me quietly: ‘but the hospitality – it has made me feel like a celebrity.’


Eugene; calm amid the hubbub

Local sculptors Antonia Spowers and Tim Rawlins had been with us all day. They came to provide art and pottery in this upstairs room for people who preferred gentle and sedentary activity to sports and walking. In the event there weren’t any of those, but the art served an unexpected purpose. Volunteers’ children proved enthusiastic budding artists and refugee visitors passing the art corner en route to the other tables stopped to say hello, admire the artwork and chat. There probably aren’t many opportunities for rural Welsh children to talk at length with people from Africa and the Middle East. Young artist Florence, aged 7, said she’d had a lovely day, meeting some lovely people.

These Away Days aren’t just about sending a message of welcome. They are about making an opportunity for refugees and local people to meet, mingle and connect as the ordinary human beings they all are. Many people called in, today, just to say hello; men from the rugby club committee, men from the Talgarth male voice choir. Performing in the choir’s fundraiser for us in May sparked curiosity and a deeper engagement in one of the singers, Titch, and he turned up today to meet the people behind it all. The Rugby Club regulars who came into the bar on Saturday afternoon found themselves sharing their space with some 100 new faces. The team of Jan’s friends who gathered in the club kitchen to put out the high tea banquet were new to this experience; but Jan said how struck she was by the sense of relaxation in the air, how at ease everyone, volunteer and visitor, was with each other.

One of the loveliest outcomes is the time that local children spend with our guests. Our children, like us, meet with images of refugees, on TV, in the press, that don’t reflect the real people; don’t tell us who they are. Footage of mothers and fathers sitting on the ground, exhausted and desolate, at the borders of unwelcoming nations; or clambering ashore, barely alive, clutching their terrified children, after perilous Mediterranean crossings, do not convey the most important, most fundamental thing that there is to know: that these people are just like us. Before this catastrophic misfortune fell on them, they lived lives like ours’ in every way that matters: they went to work in the mornings, they took their kids to school, they shopped and gardened, they cooked for each other, laughed, argued, watched TV, kept up with current affairs, studied, spent too much time on social media, had surgery, ate chocolate, lived with disabilities, lived with pain, suffered with anxiety, or depression, or illness, contracted life-changing conditions, did voluntary work, lost loved ones, lived. Just like us. At the Away Days ordinary folks like us get to mingle with these other ordinary folks and find out that they are ordinary folks. For children, especially, this is massively important; it allays fear, it nurtures understanding, it lays the ground for better integration, more diversity and better national politics in future.

You can’t organise anything three months in advance’ Virginia told me; ‘people don’t know what they’ll be doing, where they’ll be, they might be on holiday.’ She let the date approach before she sought commitments from this army of individual people who she hoped would lead activities, lead walks, make cakes, serve coffee, cook food, collect donations, set up tables, take down tables, be there early and go home late, and talk and interact and share all day with others, mostly strangers, mostly from places the volunteers themselves had never been. ‘So it got closer and then I started to think: Ooooh dear. It was nerve-wracking. You start to think: is it going to be all right?’

It was very all right.


Messages about the day

Another trip and great welcome to us. I have to say: wow!! I can not thank you enough how great you have been with us. I personally have to say: THANKS SO MUCH and I kiss your hands. Please give my THANKS and LOVE from deep of my heart to EVERYBODY. ( Yourself/Ailsa, Rachel & her mother & Dante, Rhiannon, Nansi, Sian, Melrose, Gaynor, Sean, Chris, Gerald, Jan, Virginia, Eugene, … ) and many more that unfortunately I can not remember or do not know their name. (You could write their name there and let me to know please.) GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU.A, from Iran, refugee and volunteer

‘You guys are so amazing.’ J, from Nigeria

‘My children had a great time playing football with the refugees in the other football match which was being played at the same time as the proper match. Thanks very much for visiting Talgarth.’ Sandra Williams, from Talgarth:

‘I cannot impress upon you enough how much these people get out of this. It is incredibly worthwhile. It is so rewarding.’ Phil, Volunteer with Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers’ Support Group:

Thanks to:

All of the many and un-named donors who contributed when group members appealed for donations of toiletries, clothing, food and children’s toys.

Nicola Wilks and The Baker’s Table, Talgarth, for loaves of fresh-baked bread

Morrisons in Brecon, and particularly Laurie Richards, for four huge boxes of tins and dried goods, including a full table-top spread of chocolate.

Aldi in Brecon for the supermarket trolley-full of fruit and veg

The Cooperative in Talgartfor the pitta breads. 360 of them!

John from Talgarth Stores, who gave all of the milk for the whole day

Talgarth United Free Church and St. Gwendoline’s, Llanfilo, for their huge donations of home-made cake, toiletries, more cake and clothing. And more cake.

Katy’s work colleagues at Llandrindod Community Mental Health Team for the generosity and thoughtfulness of their collective donation: food, spices, a huge bag of hand-knitted teddy bears, and specially-purchased duvet-and-curtain sets.

Brecon Allotments for the huge bin of fresh vegetables.

Katy, one of our group and a volunteer on the day, said that, as the volunteers prepared the food, toiletries and clothes that had been donated for today: ‘the atmosphere was upbeat, but there was a sense that everyone was humbled by the welcome and acceptance shown in the sheer volume of donations.’

Antonia Spowers, local sculptor, formerly of Talgarth, now of Hay on Wye; and the local artist who volunteered with her today and, modest, asked me not to name her

Eugene Fisk, artist from Hay on Wye, who drew portraits of our guests and sat for them to draw him, too

Tim Rawlins, sculptor. A bus full of active, sport-playing and sport-watching people meant that the clay he brought for pottery-making didn’t change shape today, but he stayed, talking with people, eating with people; being a part of things, of the welcome, all day.

Jan Shivel, for taking people to her garden.

Liz Rose, for welcoming people to The Mill

The facilitators and participants in all of the Sports Day activities for responding to our guests as human beings responding to other human beings, with natural, non-plussed acceptance.

Jacqui Wilding, Mayor of Talgarth, for enthusiasm and support

Gwernyfed Rugby Football Club, all of its staff and particularly Aimie Lloyd, for giving us her whole bar area, and the two young men who turned up early on Saturday morning and helped to set everything up, fetching and carrying food deliveries.

Gwernyfed RFC members and regulars, for sharing your space with us

Talgarth Sports Day Committee

Talgarth Rovers Football Club 

Councillor Rosemary Harris 

Councillor William Powell 

Former MP Roger Williams

Walkers Are Welcome, and Rob Hughes

Unity in Diversity Swansea

Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers’ Support Group 

All of the refugees and asylum seekers who come, take part, are so gracious, and make the Away Days special for us

All of the group leaders, including:

Ben Rawlencelocal writer

Lawrence Duffy, HBTS4R treasurer

Jon from Swansea

Dante Giaconne

Reg Price

Rhiannon Mc Namara

Reg’s grandsons for coming to help and then for staying to play football for most of the day

Jan Hughes and her friends for making and serving the arrival refreshments and brunch.

Jan Matthews and her friends and fellow parishioners for organising, making and serving high tea

Rachel, Pauline, Nansi and Rhiannon, and Vicky from Bronllys, and Linda from Brecon Hospital for organising, making and serving lunch

Rachel, Sue, Gez, Kate and Amos and everyone else who mucked in with sorting out the toiletries and clothing

All of the local people who came to join in the welcome and generally help out and be there

Virginia Brown, for the feat of overall organisation and coordination

Ailsa Dunn, for the many things she did and for being the driving force. ‘I coordinated the Talgarth day, and what have you, and I did this that and the other’ said Virginia Brown: ‘but I couldn’t have done it without Ailsa.’