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Refugee Week:-Awards evening 14th June 2024

We kicked off our Refugee Week celebrations with an awards ceremony, complete with an audience of over 200 people and a  number of dignitaries including the High Sheriff of Powys.

On 14th June, a designated Day of Welcome, it was appropriate to celebrate work by pupils in South Powys schools on the theme of Welcome/Croeso as part of a competition organised by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees [HBTSR]. The competition was unveiled in the 2024 spring term and all local schools were invited to submit entries by mid-April. 500 separate pieces of work were received from 10 schools and 3 panels of judges worked hard to choose the winning submissions.  The Schools who entered were Archdeacon Griffiths CIW Primary School, Brecon High School, Cradoc School, Clyro CIW Primary School, Crickhowell Community Primary School, Llangattock CIW Primary School, Llangors CIW Primary School, Mount Street Infant School, Priory CIW Primary School and Ysgol Y Mynydd Du, and the judges were Phil Clarke, Punch Maughan, Michael Baye, Jasper Fforde, Jo Scott-Lowe, Tom Owen, Clare Owen, Amanda Renwick and Tom True.

The second annual awards evening was held in St Mary’s church Brecon with over 200 people including Leader and Deputy Leader of Powys County Council, County councillors,Town Mayors, teachers, parents and most importantly children packing in to see High Sheriff Lady Kathryn Silk present nearly 80 awards. The evening started with Rowland Jepson, the Schools Lead for HBTSR, welcoming and outlining details of the competition. He thanked Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations and Powys County Council for providing the prize money and the schools and pupils for their work.

Pictures show the winning entries on display in Theatr Brycheiniog.







Rowland Jepson further commented ‘ as a member of a group committed to welcome and inclusion and the need for a fair and humane asylum system , I was delighted to see these values reflected in so many of the entries. A Ukrainian student’s acrostic poem was very impressive ‘ .

The High Sheriff then explained her role and apologised for not arriving on horseback with a star badge and guns! She stressed the importance she placed upon compassion, empathy and the need to welcome people and praised the Schools of Sanctuary movement for the emphasis it gives to welcome, inclusion and how they can teach pupils about geography, history, current affairs and much more through the stories of migration. Many of the schools which entered are working towards recognition as Schools of Sanctuary; Cradoc and Llangors Schools already have this designation with Cradoc being the first primary school in Wales to achieve the award in 2018.

Lady Kathryn said   ‘I am delighted to live in an area that is so generous and welcoming. It is gratifying to see that our schools and children reflect these values and judging from the entries have a deep understanding and empathy for those forced to flee wars and oppression. ‘

Jo Scott-Lowe reads one of the award winning entries.

Treasurer Lawrence with the High Sheriff

Then certificates and prizes were awarded for welcoming letters, visual interpretations and illustrated poems to entrants from 4 age groups.  Some children had agreed to read their work and all winning entries were displayed on a screen. The evening finished with winners having photographs taken with the High Sheriff and people marvelling at the high standard and the empathy shown in the entries.

One of the winning poems, written by an 8 year old reflects the attitudes of many of the entries:

‘Come and join us in our wonderful

Wales, have fun and learn with us,

Read with us, laugh with us and play with us,

Open your heart to Wales.

Everybody in Wales is your friend,

Somebody will always be there for you,

Our Wales can be shared with everyone.’

The igh Sheriff with one of the judges Michael

All the winning entries are on display in Theatr Brycheiniog Gallery until 5th July together with some samples of work done by four of the schools working towards School of Sanctuary status.
Thanks TO Powys County Council and PAVO for support for prizes. Also to St Mary’s Church for letting us use the building, to Tower cafe for letting us move things round and to churchwarden Rebecca for her help. Thanks also to our supporters [Margaret, Gaynor, Jim, Melrose, Lis, Lynne, Philip, Lawrence, Anna, Richard, Rowland, Claire, Jackie, Michael, Virginia Patrick, Matthew and others] who came to help and moved furniture, served refreshments and answered questions. Couldn’t have done this without massive support.  Thanks also to the schools and pupils who made this evening possible bu their enthusiasm, artistry and hard work.