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A tremendous time at Trefonnen- again !

It’s very beautiful here. The donations are very helpful as we have little money as asylum seekers.’

On one of the hottest days of the year so far, many pupils and parents joined with staff and governors of Ysgol Trefonnen Church in Wales Community  Primary school and HBTSR to welcome people from many different countries who are currently living in Newtown, Ystradgynlais and Swansea. Starting at 8am, Cooks Pat, Sally and volunteer assistants at the Herb Garden Community cafe  were preparing food donated by Ashfield Community enterprise , Fairshare Tescos, Liz Fleming – Williams, Aldi and the Spar. They prepared baked potatoes , rice and pasta with a delicious Syrian vegetable stew and a tomato/ vegetable sauce and salads, coleslaw and eggs.

At a similar time, people began arriving at school to sort out the  mountain of donations of clothing , toys, books, and toiletries  , to arrange the games loaned by Play Radnor ,  put out football posts, gazebos and parasols   and set up the hall for the guests. Welcome drinks and biscuits were laid out ready.

. photos show people hard at work and Lynne arriving with arm in plaster.

St. John’s ambulance officers Simon, Karen and trainees Jordan, Rachel and Charlotte arrived for a day of minor injury consultations and a teaching session of life saving techniques. Police Community Support Officers Miranda and Anna came to join in the fun and to show that uniformed officers can be trusted friends

Knighton was represented by Christine, Siggy and Roly for  crafts, beading, colouring and chat. School staff arranged face painting and a wonderful welcome tree to display  handprints and to be kept as a momento of the day . Our friend from last year,  Hamed, support worker in Newtown, arrived and everything was ready.

Meanwhile, Alan the bus driver from Newtown was driving the exceedingly  bendy roads  with over 30 Syrians who now call Newtown home and Alun, bus driver from Swansea was negotiating the road up through Powys  with people from Swansea joined by a fleet of 4 cars bringing Syrian people from  Ystradgynlais. The Swansea start was delayed by a ‘fun run’ that had closed the town centre and diverted traffic. Alun said that he had decided to ignore the closed signs and drive through so saving at least 30 minutes and reducing stress for Wayne, Maggie and Ailsa who were separately wondering how they would break the news of a no show to 50 people keen on a day out and 100 people keen to welcome them….

The Newtown people arrived to have drinks at around 11.30 and the Swansea bus and accompanying cars arrived by 12.30 in time to start lunch. Thankfully the Swansea  contingent were much less travel sick due to the straighter  roads and were able to join in quickly. Old friendships were renewed and new ones made with people delighted to find fellow country folk in the middle of a small Welsh town and  to talk of Aleppo, Raqqa, Damascus and of well remembered homes.  Smiles, tears and gratitude seemed the order of the day.

Kathryn and Will arrived with donations of now grown out of soft toys and several were immediately seized upon for new homes. Will was able to give two small soft toy mice to a lady from Newtown who is expecting her first girl after 3 boys. She was delighted and wept at the kindness.

Lunch was much enjoyed [ especially the Syrian curry ] with plenty for every one of the very many people there and even substantial amounts to take home. A superb demonstration of  cardiac resuscitation, coma positioning and the `Heimlich maneouvre’ by Simon and interpreted by Hammed was enjoyed by many. One girl shared her desire to learn to be a nurse,  that she had been forced  to leave university in Syria and  now knew that she would have to pass English exams before she could try an access to learning course that might allow her to start nurse training. So at least 3 years of hard work ahead before she could hope to start but she enjoyed watching the spectacle of people trying the techniques and having fun. Simon was delighted that he may have recruited a volunteer for St John’s in Newtown. His lively  manner and humorous delivery would certainly encourage people to attend further training!





The Painting tree started to take shape, most people including the PCSO’s had painted faces, necklaces and badges were worn. The football continued with short water breaks and the Connect four and massive snakes and ladders game were enjoyed. 

Almost as soon as Lunch was cleared, tea was laid out by the Friends of the school. Sandwiches of every  variety, beautifully made and presented were laid  alongside cakes, scones, apple crumble and biscuits. PC Charlie spent her day off work making some of these beautiful sandwiches and arrived to help tempt people who had eaten a massive lunch to eat still more.

A photo opportunity on the School bank  of the people attending was seized but rather slowly as people tried to digest cake and the news it was nearly time to go home. Addresses and phone numbers were swapped and promises to keep in touch made


Two of the subjects from Eugene’s book with their pictures. They were delighted to be given copies bought for them by a supporter. Margaret was very sorry to part with this little one . And a lady was delighted with new shoes,’I’ll not sleep tonight for excitement and will be scared someone will come to take them.’

And then it was time to leave. Hammed was proud that he was able to encourage his friends to board the bus for Newtown and for the bus to leave on time. The bus to Swansea took longer as people kept realising they needed the toilet or some water or both and some started to leave the bus just to cool down a little. Really people didn’t want the wonderful afternoon to stop. Parents put bulging bags onto the coach and children hugged new toys and proudly wore their new necklaces.

But eventually at 4.30 the bus and cars left and tidying up commenced in earnest. Donated clothes that were left after many bags were taken will be used to help raise funds for  the school, books were divided  into boxes for the school fair and to send to Athens Refugee library via a small charity ‘ We Need Books’. Toys were taken to go via Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response Project to the Greek islands and to the Unity in Diversity Drop in centre.


Many thanks

to Ysgol Trefonnen Church in Wales Primary School – Head, Staff, Governors, Pupils and Parents  and the Friends for working so hard at a weekend to look after people so much less fortunate, for the very generous donations and for making the whole day such fun .

To Ryan Coleman for coordination, hard work and patience.

To the Herb Garden Cafe and the suppliers of food -Ashfield Community Enterprise, Fairshare Tescos, Liz Fleming – Williams, Aldi and the Spa.

To The Knighton Support group – Christine, Siggy and Roly { and possibly others and certainly the people who have sponsored Christine to be able to provide the beads]

To St John’s Ambulance Volunteers for such wonderful entertainment and professional service!

To the Police for being such sports and showing that uniformed service in Britain are friendly and helpful.

To Play Radnor for the loan of equipment.

To the volunteers from the Samaritans shop for help with sorting the donations and some additional donations.

To Alan and Alun for superb driving and empathy.

To Wayne and Maggie who had such a long and hot journey to accompany guests.

To all the guests for  joining us and participating so enthusiastically.

We all had a wonderful day. So good for children to see their school not just as a place of learning but as an exemplar of decency and welcome. Another day that will live long in the memories of all who were involved.

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Thanks from Swansea, Newtown and Ystradgynlais.

A day out with such friendly people and lovely food with the additional bonus of clothing, toiletries and toys was much appreciated. The chance to make  friends and chat and watch the children playing together was so good. It is lovely that children can play without having to speak the same language although it was obvious that many of the  families are now much more confident to try to speak and communicate well. A great day out ! Thanks so much


Mrs R – Eritrea.
We are very happy to meet new people, nice people. I live here 4 years never go anywhere or meet anyone. My friend help me to get out and come on the trip. I’m very happy and my son really enjoy.

Mr N
My wife and daughter really enjoy, to meet new people and have good food. It’s very beautiful here. The donations are very helpful as we have little money as asylum seekers. My daughter loves chatting to people and the face painting.

Mrs H from Iraq.
I love the beautiful places in Wales when we go on the trips. My children really enjoy and I enjoy meeting new people. It was difficult this morning because the town was so busy, my Welsh neighbour was very kind to take me to the bus, I love Wales the people are so friendly and helpful.