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Bopping in Brecon – A great day out

What is Jazz Festival?’ ‘ An opportunity to close the streets and play music and have fun in Brecon’ ‘Good idea!’

It’s been a busy month and yet it seemed  a great opportunity to have a day out alongside the Brecon Jazz  Fringe Festival and Theatr Brycheiniog Summer family Festival. Penny agreed to coordinate arrangements, Melrose to oversee the food, Fiona to make up gift bags,Watton and Llanfaes allotments to donate produce, Gillian to bring flowers and Liz to give us free range eggs.So many people generously offered to make food for the all day buffet and even more turned up to help on the day.  Exceedingly kind supporters [ as always] donated food, toiletries and bags[ thanks to the thoughtful person who gave us a bag of very neatly folded ‘bags for life’ and some beautifully ironed clothes] Friends and relatives of supporters and supporters in their droves arrived and helped to prepare the scout hut and to escort our visitors around town.

Photo of allotment, Melrose,Maggie and Brenda busy and people waiting for arrivals, Eggs and Fiona packing boxes.

Wayne filled a list and then some! The coach was full coming from Swansea [ some might say over full- but we couldn’t possibly comment] our new friend came from Herefordshire with foster carers and 5 Syrian families came up from Ystradgynlais with Maggie on the ‘free at weekends’ T6 bus  and 2 cars came from Swansea with Phil and Darwesh and passengers. Wayne had to remain in Swansea to help with the Saturday drop in at St Philips and so missed a magical day out. Maria said that she felt it was a life affirming day and she was right. Saba said it was brilliant  and she too was right. T said that she was happy because the children were happy  and they certainly were.The combination of wonderful food, company, fun activities for children and music was an intoxicating mix.

Brecon from the  Bell tower.

We didn’t arrange any additional activities to take place in the scout hut as we knew that Theatr Brycheiniog were holding childrens’s activities all day and the play park was nearby for play equipment and Football! [ Yes, there was football again!- M had been off the bus for less than 5 minutes before asking Lawrence where the football was and where they could play!] The match was a mix of adults and children with a final score of 9 all! The kind face-painters at the theatre agreed a bargain job lot so that everyone who wanted their face painted had it done beautifully [ and almost all children and mothers seemed to be sporting flowers and diamonds by time to leave] . People enjoyed the bands and music near the theatre and in town. The walk to and from from the theatre to the hut and into town seemed to build appetites and food kept arriving on the tables and vanishing! As if by magic,  clean plates and cutlery also kept pace[ thanks Trish, Hilary, Erica and many others].

The Procession, Street Jazz, Drums and Playpark

The highlight of the day for some of us was a trip up St Mary’s bell tower courtesy of Kath and Paul Johnson. We had the opportunity to learn a little about bell ringing, to see the clock and the bells before seeing the views from the top. Spectacular doesn’t quite do it justice.None of us had seen these views  nor had a go at ringing before and A and her young friend were deemed naturals. We hope they may follow this up in Sketty where the ringers are looking for new young acolytes. On coming down, Saba and friends met an ice cream seller they knew from Swansea – didn’t get them free ice creams as she was waiting for delivery!

Image may contain: sky, house, tree and outdoorAilsa and Saba learning how difficult it is to ring bells and a view from the top

Other moments include Mike demonstrating how to cook a marrow [ we had loads, thanks so much] Sean demonstrating how to join a procession [ and being ideally dressed for the occasion] Margaret, Penny and Neil showing off our new banner, Bethan being befriended by our driver Alun once he’d sorted out the sickness and foodbags. Steve leading the Hip Hop listening party and people coming and going in as relaxed a manner as if we’d all known each other for years.

Time flew, Maggie had arranged to catch a bus back at 4.15 and the Ystradgynlais Syrian families left with food, flowers and great memories of a good day out. Hassan spoke for them all when he said how much they had enjoyed coming and wanted to join us again. They’ve had Wayne teaching them this week and hope to see him soon. K wanted to know why some people were wearing such strange clothes. It was explained that it was only for the weekend and by Monday they’d all be wearing  suits  again. She  nodded thoughtfully, smiling but probably thinking we’re all bonkers!

The coach and car parties assembled back at the hut for last minute drinks, toilet breaks and farewells. The flowers provoked smiles on the faces  of all recipients and someone commented that even if the bouquets didn’t make it home un-battered, the memories of the brilliant colours and the day out would last for a long time.And for us another superb day when we met some lovely people in warm and friendly surroundings, had good food and celebrated all the things we have in common rather than noting the differences. J, a newbie, said ‘I’d not  met anyone seeking asylum before and feared they might be aggressive or unpleasant from what I’d seen and read.  But they were polite, interesting and fun and I’ve had a great day.’

Thanks are due to so many people – Please feel suitably thanked if you were there, contributed, helped us whilst out and about or just thought about us.

Hello supporters,
On behalf of us all from Swansea who benefitted from your hospitality today, thank you , thank you, thank you! 58 people travelled by bus ( that’s another story) and 2 cars with a further 9 people arrived late morning to our usual warm welcome. Another life enhancing day of friendship, welcome, warmth, generosity and the wonderful opportunity for so many seeking asylum to enjoy a much needed, relaxing respite day where they could experience ‘normal’ life with family and friends.
The summer holidays are a huge challenge to families on very low income who are struggling to get through a day at a time. Today gave the opportunity for many of those families to relax, with wonderful food and a range of activities, friendly faces and a bag of goodies to go home with.
The long holidays are also a challenge to single people, on very low income , whose routine of college, courses, etc is disrupted. They all enjoyed the ‘buzz’ of the atmosphere in Brecon today, enhanced by the festival and it had a holiday feel.
Particular thanks to Penny who oversaw the organisation of the day ,to the kitchen team, all those who provided the never ending supply of truly delicious food , those who prepared, cleared up, shopped, provided beautiful bunches of flowers and garden produce, demonstrated how different vegetables could be prepared and cooked, donated or organised clothes donations,chaperoned children, or who turned up and smiled and welcomed and waved.
Many whom I spoke to loved the town, the countryside views ,the park and theatre facilities. Many were fascinated by the bell ringing and the wonderful views from the tower. One young man M had been brought along by a friend, he is 17 and told me he lives in a children’s home. This was his first trip – he told me how lovely it was to be somewhere different near the countryside. M and his family were overwhelmed by their first experience of HBTSR’s hospitality. He said he could not believe the friendliness,the welcome and that it made him and his family very happy. He said he felt as if he had made good friends even though he had only met them for a day! T who has four children to care for by herself ,told me of the relief she felt that they could all come today. It was wonderful that a young Eritrean girl, sent to Hereford by the Home Office ( and believes she is the only female refugee in the town) was able to meet another Eritrean woman from Swansea. They took each other’s details and hope to keep in touch.
It was also good to meet local people and new members of HBTSR. The word is spreading…. The weather was kind to us which always adds to the day🌞.
All your efforts were successful in ensuring that 60+ men women and children, seeking asylum or coming to terms with becoming a refugee, had a fabulous day.
Thank you one and all, it is a pleasure and a privilege to know you.
Maria, Phil and friends

Brecon jazz festival such a fabulous day thank you very much for invite us to this brilliant event- Saba

Hello ,
Another successful team effort in Brecon yesterday! How nice that the sun did its share for a change. Thanks Very much and best wishes, Ruth

Dear Friends,

Well it did turn out to be a busy day as we hoped and expected but there were also quieter moments to sit down and chat over a cup of tea and delicious food. I hope you all enjoyed the day and also got something of the feel of the town in carnival mode. Many thanks for all your contributions, it was a great team effort and I am sure provided the respite, enjoyment and friendship we aim for for the refugees and asylum seekers (despite the odd burst balloon!). If you have any suggestions about how we could have done things differently or better do pass them on…

with Thanks Penny

Another glorious, no rain, away day to Brecon thanks to HBTSR and SBASSG. Ample families enjoyed an array of activities, including a 9-9 final score, mixed adult & kids football match. thanks to the 20+ Hay volunteers who made the day so welcoming, supportive and eventful. We even caught some hip hop all the way from Durban. Dreamteam and many other musicians thanks to Brecon theatre. Puppets, cathedral, face painting and more ….. diolch! 🙂

Thanks to drive, Alun too* who let me loose on the tour guide mic. lol Bethan

I called round to see some of the families yesterday. They were all very happy with the day out; some showed me photos they had taken of the canal and the procession. K asked me why some people were wearing such strange clothes! I explained that it was only one day in a year and that on Monday they would all be wearing suits again. She nodded thoughtfully, smiling, but probably thinks we’re all bonkers……some are bored and lonely because their English skills are not coming on as quickly as they hoped but I think they will get through this, and days like Saturday take them out of their everyday reality.> Thanks to you and everyone who made it possible. I’ll be ready to help out more at the next one!>> Maggie