” It’s the joy of the day that matters.” a wonderful quote that sums up the essence of a welcome day out.
It is always an ideal, comfortable and sensible plan to host a Welcome day with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority staff and volunteers and the Big Skill. We’d not had a visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre [otherwise known as the Mountain Centre] before. Francesca suggested that we have a change of scene from Craig Y Nos and when Jackie confirmed that she and the Big Skill would be happy to help too , HBTSR were delighted to accept. We know that we can work together almost telepathically and that a collaborative event will be enormous fun.
Francesca wrote in early October- ‘There are 3 gazebos at the Centre and Jackie is arranging for two more (at least) from CYN so there will be shelter and I will arrange some space in the Beacons room where people can sit if it gets cold. It’s not large but will take 30 ish people if needed. There are 40 ish plastic chairs at the Centre and several tables for serving. Jackie has lined up willing volunteers to erect/dismantle and furnish gazebos.
You can set up along the hedge at the side of the front lawn ( more or less opposite the tall red kite sculpture) . You can set your welcome gazebo on front edge of lawn or wherever you think best. There will be an electric cable from the power points there for an urn. Jackie is bringing from CYN urn, the rolling water barrel and of course THE JUG! Thanks Jackie and helpers!
You will be pleased to know that the car park, water supply, toilets, shop etc are all close at hand and there is a very small kitchen at the back of the centre which is staff only, but I can access if needed for anything.
I checked initially with the café and they were fine with you catering for the group, so I will remind them but obviously, it would be good to keep people away from their area unless they were buying something.
Activities- Big Skill crafts, big children’s adventure playground for older and younger children, wildlife garden(I’ll bring some easy nature activities), access to Millenium garden, lawn space (Jackie bringing some play equipment etc from CYN), guided shortish (max 1mile) walk after lunch on Common with Ludmila interpreting for the Ukrainians. (If wet I will try and get the technology working to do a talk in Beacons room.) Info centre and craft shop.
Transport-First Choice bus leaving Swansea 10.30.….
Think that is it apart from hoping for good weather. Long range forecast is light rain/cloud at moment.‘
So all the hard work was done! Melrose and Robert with Caleb’s assistance met with Jackie and Francesca on Tuesday to just confirm all arrangements. Thanu and Saba took names for the bus trip from Swansea and Rhiannon undertook to let local Ukrainians and hosts know about the event. Melrose gathered many offers of help with catering and from people who were happy to come to help.
We were all anxious that the unsettled weather of the week might ruin plans but the sun was out throughout the day and apart from a cold wind , it was a perfect autumn day. The gazebo erection and carriage of table and chairs by Jackie’s friends including local town and county councillors was quick and precise and saved a lot of time. Even more wonderful was that they came back later to dismantle and return items! Mayor David Meredith kindly brought some foods that were left over from a lunch party for the official visit of the Zulu Queen which were a very welcome addition to the foods we had prepared.
Ukrainian guests started to arrive after 11 and the bus at around 11.45 with people enthusing about the beauty of the journey. The tea and coffee dispensing began in earnest and only stopped when people were leaving! We had so much fruit, biscuits and cake that again we were able to send some home with guests and also for the drop in groups in Swansea and some was saved for a visit from Newport on Tuesday .
The activities of Clay modelling, Bead threading and Weaving were much appreciated and many people had new bracelets before leaving. ‘Pre loved ‘ coats, clothing and bedding were welcomed by many and left overs were taken by Rhiannon for a group who donate to refugees and homeless. It was lovely that a Ukrainian lady brought a pile of washed and folded baby clothes that her baby had grown out of and an Arabic family with a newish baby were delighted beneficiaries.
Lunch service started around 12.30 with everyone talking about the delicious food.
A walk above the centre was led by Francesca and Alan and interpretation by Ludmila for the Ukrainians was appreciated. Some Sri Lankan students who were visiting from Cardiff were intrigued by seeing so many nationalities having fun together and stopped for a chat. What a multicultural place the Mountain Centre is!
After the walk people returned for more tea and cake and sadly the time had almost run out .We’d catered for over 130 people with nearly 100 being people seeking sanctuary.
With so much help though, we’d tidied up before 5 and everyone left feeling they’d had a really lovely day out!
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority staff and Volunteers- Francesca, Alan, Jackie Rob and many others for so much hard work and planning and for help and organising walks – Thanks also to the shop and cafe for allowing us to pitch up and feed over 100 people , walk through to get water and fill the grounds!
Local town and county Councillors and other volunteers for help in erecting and dismantling many gazebos and to Mayor David Meredith for bringing the wonderful food left by the Zulu Queen!
The Big Skill, Rebecca, Trevor and others for coming with clay, beads and weaving. All much enjoyed,
HBTSR volunteers [ Margaret, Lawrence, Ailsa, Jackie and Rob, Adil and Mary, Philip ,Lynne and Claire, Claire, Christina, Melrose and Robert, Lis, Eryl, Penny, Carola and Carola [yes there were 2]Ruth, Sue and Jez, Gaynor and Jim, Rowland, Val and Tim, Alison and Jean – and forgive me if i’ve missed anyone] For food, drinks and support.
Rhiannon for coordinating the Ukrainian hosts and guests visit and to Ludmila for interpretation.
Thanks to our visitors from Ukraine and their hosts and our visitors and friends from Swansea- we’d have had a very boring time without you all. Thanks for coming!
Thanks – From Swansea visitors
*From T Many Thanks to wonderful HBTSR and National park team for this amazing welcome day. I cannot thank you enough for your hard work to organise such a great day for people from Swansea. It was such a lovely coach journey over the mountains. And everyone was pleasantly surprised to have such a lovely welcome, hospitality and care for them.
We were blessed with weather. Food, drinks and entertainment was excellent as always. For many this was their first experience and they loved the experience. They couldn’t believe why someone would sacrifice their time and money for them. Faith in humanity restored for many after the difficulties they have faced in their lives.
Many thanks once again dear HBTSR.
* The trip was excellent. thanks for the sponsors and cares.
* The trip was so nice 😊 Thank you so much
* Hello, the tour was excellent, we enjoyed it a lot, we had a great time, the place was very nice, the attention, the food, the kindness of the people, we liked it. Thank you for giving us a space and allowing us to enjoy the ride.
* Hello! It was a wonderful trip organized by people with kind hearts! Thank you!
* from R Thank you for inviting us, we enjoyed it very much. The walk was very interesting. I enjoyed the activities at the tables and the food was delicious. Please let the Brecon group know our thanks for their hospitality and generosity. God bless you.
* From G and family- we enjoyed the trip and the best thing was meeting new people. We would like to go back just to share with them again.
- Good evening.
On behalf of my family, I’d like to say a very big thank you.
We all had so much fun
The food, toys and activities provided were amazing. We really enjoyed our selves.
Thank you so much.
THANKS ON BEHALF OF THE UKRAINIAN VISITORS
Once again, a huge thank you for a wonderful day on Sunday. The Brecon Beacons Visitor’s Centre was a perfect location for the event and the weather was truly on our side. Indeed, the fourth sunny Welcome day in a row:)
There was a warm welcome, fantastic hospitality and delicious food, as always, and many enjoyed taking part in the accompanied walk learning more about the National Park and its history, as well as making and doing with The Big Skills team. Another great opportunity to meet up with old friends, and make new ones too.
Special thanks to Brecon Beacons National Park for hosting and funding the Ukrainian translator, and to Francesca who took the lead alongside Jackie, plus The Big Skill facilitators, the volunteer Labour Party members and all from Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees who give their time so freely and generously. What a team!