In a week where the news for those seeking refuge has been disheartening, a glimmer of positivity shone through for the Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees. Trustees, Rowland and Ailsa, attended a celebration event hosted by the High Sheriff of Powys, Mr. Tom Jones, that was attended by a range of individuals, including local councillors, English teachers, clergy and various support groups. The event was attended by many Ukrainian people living locally and was an opportunity for people to share their experiences and to say thank you to people who had helped with Ukrainian resettlement in Powys.
To the Trustees surprise, two awards were presented to HBTSR for their efforts in supporting people seeking sanctuary including the Ukrainian people who arrived in the last year and also for HBTSR’s support to other voluntary groups in the local community. One award was the High Sheriff’s award, which was also presented to eight other individuals or groups, including the closely linked group Crickhowell Supports Ukraine, and Sarah Shuffell, who played a vital role in bringing people to safety in Powys during the early days of the Ukrainian war. The second award was from PAVO [Powys Association Of Voluntary Organisations] and was presented ahead of their official awards ceremony next week, as they thought it was a more fitting occasion.
The event featured some captivating speeches, including stories from Iryna and Maryna about their experiences. Iryna shared a story of how her grandmother was saved from the Russians by hiding in a barn with sheep and goats, who provided her warmth and shelter from the cold. Maryna spoke of her desire for her children to grow up knowing about Ukrainian culture and language and how her city of Donetz was founded by a Welshman. Both expressed gratitude for the help and support they have received in Wales.
Ruth Marks, the CEO of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, highlighted the needs of all refugees and expressed an interest in the group’s work. The awards were accepted by Ailsa and Rowland on behalf of the whole group of over 500 people who have worked hard to raise the profile of people seeking sanctuary and to help in any way they can. While the awards were a great surprise, the group remains committed to this voluntary work and will continue to do what they can to help.
In a week when a football pundit has shown much more humanity than the elected government, it felt good to be in the company of locally elected Councillors who were all very supportive of our group and the people HBTSR exists to help.
With the agreement of Councillor Matthew Dorrance Deputy Leader of Powys Council, some of his speech that closed the event is reproduced below as it was moving and inspiring.
‘On behalf of Powys County Council, I want to say a heartfelt
thank you to all of you for the help and support you have
offered to those in need.
I was lucky enough to hear our First Minister Mark Drakeford
speak over the weekend. I heard him talk of his “basic belief
that, in our brief lives, we owe a duty of care not just to
ourselves, not even just to our family and friends, but also to
What he said was powerful. It understood that the welfare of
strangers is intimately bound up with our own.
I see those values here in Brecon. I see it in all of you. When
strangers were in need you stepped up. You answered the call,
and you did and continue to do what you can to help.
So, thank you. Thank you all for all that you have done. And
thank you for all you continue to do.
And let us take this opportunity to remind ourselves that the
light of liberty will prevail over darkness.
Diolch o galon’
Since the award there have been some lovely messages of congratulations in response to Ailsa’s email to let the group know of this unexpected success and also from event attendees.Some are below
Great news for ‘spreading the word’ too & I agree with C – so glad you were there to receive the accolades & awards! – well done L
That’s wonderful. Not only a testament to the group as a whole but also to you personally for all you have done to get it up and keep it going. Thanks very much. T
Well done all of you. Much deserved.
Once again many thanks for your dedication and hard work. Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees truly deserve both awards and the recognition for all you have done, and continue to do to support those who have arrived from Ukraine, and the support provided to all refugees arriving in Powys.
I only wish the kindness you have shown could be reflected across all of society. However it gives me joy and continued hope for a fairer and more welcoming society where everyone deserves to and can live in peace and free from fear and persecution. C
Congratulations, Ailsa! These awards are hugely deserved by you and the team! You all work so tirelessly and imaginatively, and enable those of us who don’t or can’t for whatever reason the opportunity to support refugees through you. R
Congratulations Ailsa and all who work so tirelessly to raise the profile of all displaced persons. P
A very heart warming email! Midst all the gloom it’s very welcome to have some good news. Thanks to you and Rowland for representing the group and many thanks for all you do (albeit with a bit of help – but you hold it all together) to keep the show on the road. V
Congratulations – well deserved. The group does amazing work. A
So richly deserved, . Everyone involved with the group have worked tirelessly in raising the profile of refugees and those seeking sanctuary. R
I was very pleased to see you and HBTSR recognised. You have all done such important work and the recognition is so well deserved. M
Thank you for sharing this lovely news Ailsa .
It must have been very special to have been part of the evening, and part of something that celebrates basic human goodness, and compassion…and what is possible when people of good faith and vision come together.
I hope that when I say “Congratulations”, you will understand it in the spirit with which it is meant. …that you can receive the congratulations on behalf of the group. J
That’s such good news!