Sue and Lynne decided that it was about time we re-visited Hay for a day out and thankfully this view was shared by very many judging from the numbers of people who helped, called in, cooked, washed up, sang, played, knitted, served and/or chatted. So it was that the 28th January saw a very large gathering at the Parish Hall in Hay with so many people crammed into a relatively small space!
Photos show the hall with lovely decorations and busy.
It is hard at times not to feel overwhelmed by peoples’ generosity and it is always good to be reminded that we gain at least as much from these days out as the people whom we welcome. We asked for board games and there was a pile of at least 50 boxes- many visitors were able to take games home as well as sending another large pile to Unity in Diversity. We asked for cakes and like the miracle of the feeding of 5,000 we all had cake to eat, most had cake to take home and we still have some to freeze for a future day out! We asked for fruit and Derek from the Deli gave us at least 3 large boxes of oranges and a large box of dates [ seriously yummy and everyone had their fill as well and as taking some home] and the Coop and Aldi did us proud with groceries to take home. We asked for stews and there were so many delicious varieties and rice and cous cous, a delicious kedgeree pie, home made breads, croissants, fudge and even freshly cut fruit for afters.
some of the food
We had clothes and household goods to sort through and Sean now has a carload to share with a refugee group in Chepstow. We even raised some money by selling some of the lovely mushroom growing kits given to us by the Deli! And the Hall didn’t charge us any rental – Thanks and we hope we left it sufficiently tidy?
I have run ahead of myself! A meeting at the beginning of the month divvied up the work and gave lots of ideas to work on . Mari and Claire did sterling work liaising with the shops and suppliers and Hilary, Harriet, Mari, Anna, Steve, Angharad, Lynne, Alene,Flora, Theresa, Stewart and Barbara cooked hard whilst many also made cakes or contributed in other ways.
A number of people arrived to help set up the hall on Saturday and it did look so bright with wall hangings and table cloths supplied by Rachel and Dante. Steve brought loads of greenery to decorate the railings and enough to put vases of flowers and leaves on each table. Sunday saw people back at the hall from 9.00 onwards and the team swung into action. Food was unwrapped, heated, cooked, bags were packed ready to go home, games were made ready, clothes were put out, boots and waterproofs available for any intrepid walkers, tables and chairs were rearranged, drinks were arranged and then we set off to welcome the bus and car from Swansea. This trip had 35 Habisha people from Swansea who are beginning to join with each other for support and friendship and a number of people we have met many time and are now good friends.
In the car park, we were able to encourage people who wanted to go for a bike ride to set off with Anna and Sue immediately and thus they were able to have a ride and return in time for lunch. At the hall, once the rest had had coffee and biscuits, a ‘mountain’ walk set off with Gez and others went for a stroll with Tommo and family around town to see the river, springs and the children’s play park. Face-painting by Lynne and Philip’s nephew Alex [ Who had come from London especially] was immensely popular and so many beautifully painted faces wandered around town…
Meanwhile our invitation to the Syrian families in Hereford to call in had fallen on fertile ground. At about 12 a convoy of cars pulled into the Conservative club car park and almost immediately were asked to leave! Whilst Gez, Pauline and others tried to help find some parking spaces, others tried to welcome the people who had arrived somewhat bemused about where they were, what was going on and how they would get some quite disabled people from the places they could park to the hall. Once they had looked in and seen how busy the hall was they decided that perhaps they would continue their journey and have a day out elsewhere! They said that they were pleased to have been asked and might return another time- when it was less busy!
Lunch was served over a long period as people came back from walks, cycle rides and strolls. Father Richard called in after the services and chatted. The Hay Community Choir entertained and encouraged everyone to join in – it was so good to see so many happy faces enjoying each others company and singing in unison. Thanks to Rob and Fiona for coordinating. The encores showed how people didnt want the singing to stop.Then, as they drifted away with several people asking for details of joining the mailing list and with
cakes being served, Justin started a children’s band which kept us all busy until it was time to re join the bus! The bells and tubes and other percussion was very popular. Some crafts [ and although I’ d heard definitely not clay mentioned the models going out did look suspiciously like clay….. ]with Emma and Tim entertained many , as well as many enjoying the chess and cards and draughts. Alene couldn’t be with us [except in spirit ]but besides cooking up a storm she arranged for 2 friends Alison and Geraldine to come and knit and a number of people really enjoyed learning to knit or crochet and some lovely work was done with others taking things home to continue with. N was delighted with being given some of the flowers to take home- ‘ The lady told me this one [ white heather] is lucky so I hope she is right!’
Walking to the bus with people reflecting upon their day out was inspiring. all agreed that it had been a great day and people who hadn’t been before asked about possible future trips. So many thanks to so many people for a memorable and enjoyable day- Especially the behind the scenes people who washed up, tidied up and ensured that everything went so smoothly.
Thanks and comments
HBTSR are very grateful to Hay Parish Hall for making this space available to us , To The Deli for generous food donation, to Drovers’ Cycles for the cycle ride,to Hay Community Choir for singing, to the Coop and Aldi for food donation, to the many generous people who came and helped,cooked, Welcomed, donated and generally made this such a great day.
Mrs S (Iraq Kurdistan) It’s very nice all the people are very kind. My children enjoy all the activities and toys. My son is very active and we feel stuck at home which upsets him, these trips are like a dream come true for him. The donations are very helpful for us, we are so grateful to meet such friendly people
Mr N (Bangladesh)
My children have had such a wonderful time playing outside and singing songs, my daughter always feels bored and this is nice because we are not in the house. The donations really help because our money is low.
Mr T (Ethiopia)
The food is so delicious and I enjoyed cycling in the fresh air. Very nice to talk to lots of new people.
It is so beautiful and natural here in the countryside, it reminds me of Ethiopia in the winter when everything is green. The people are very friendly.
Mrs S (Nepal)
This is my first trip and I enjoyed so much more than I expected, it’s all so new for me. I would’ve been home all day, we travelled quite far I was surprised. We are on section 4 so have no Money, otherwise we can’t travel or visit anywhere.
L [Llyswen] Hay away day was amazing although we could have done with a bigger hall! Lots going on – face painting , clay making , games, bike riding, walking and the local choir as well as lots of food – all donated! What an amazing day – thanks so much to everyone who helped – cooked, washed up, organised, played with the children, rode bikes, walked etc etc. I’ve had some feed back already from one of our visitors:
I am writing on behalf of all of us from Swansea who benefitted from the wonderful day today in Hay-on –Wye. A slightly different day because we were joined by 35 Habisha asylum seekers and refugees from Swansea, most of whom were unfamiliar to us regulars. We had been asked by Biniam, who is trying to support a group of more isolated East African people, to assist by inviting them on a trip which would a. Help them to get to know each other better and b. Have a relaxing day out somewhere different, and enjoy the hospitality of a warm and welcoming group. We got them there – but you all did us proud! A group of very isolated and lonely people( mainly from Ethiopia and Eritrea) enjoyed the warm welcome, delicious food, walks, cycling and other activities provided by your kind selves. A bus full of very smiley adults and children left at 4.30 with memories of a day out to remember. Many of the single men from this community ( and others) miss the easy familiarity with children from their families. Today, they could enjoy the feeling of interacting with the children as well as giving their parents a much needed break. It also gave us volunteers from Swansea a chance to chat with them and encourage them to attend our drop in sessions. We hope this will happen. Biniam did a wonderful job of coordinating the list and coped very well with frequent phone calls and messages from Maria, who does not benefit from the African laid back attitude.I so wish I did!! They have a lot to teach us.
We were also joined by some ‘regulars’ who feel special being welcomed back as special friends. It is uplifting to see the joy and relaxation on their faces, sometimes, but rarely, seen by those of us who meet our friends on a regular basis.
The activities worked well- the face painting a great success enjoyed by young and old(er). The cycling gave a huge boost of self confidence to some who had not ridden for a couple of years, and a breath of fresh air to others. It caused great amusement that the one lucky person with the electric bike was the most exhausted!!
The walk led by the famous Gez, was thoroughly enjoyed by the group, including two Habisha ladies who surprised the group- despite totally inappropriate footwear, they strode ahead of the others- because of course, this is what they have done for years at home.
Children enjoyed the playground in Hay and many were involved in craft activities,music activities and games. Thanks to the choir, and Julian with his assortment of musical instruments, who added greatly to the occasion. Music and song unite all peoples and crowd participation was enthusiastic.
Thank you to everyone who played any part in this wonderful day – preparation and shopping of food, washing up, clearing away. From what I saw it was seamless. The food was, as usual, delicious. At no point will we take this for granted. Every salad, curry, vegetable , pastry dish takes hours to prepare. The cakes are talked about in Swansea for weeks afterwards. Many of the women said how lovely it was to be cooked for and they didn’t have to wash up- what a treat.
There were many people from Hay and surrounding area who joined us today, whom we had not met before. A very special thank you to them. It was lovely to meet so many people who wanted to play a part in the occasion. I particularly noticed that there was a lot of integration and natural chat between our friends and volunteers. Many of our friends are rarely listened to properly. We are a relatively small group of volunteers in Swansea. Although we try our best, it is at times, impossible to sit and chat in a relaxed way with them because we are ‘stretched thinly’. Days like today also give us the chance to do this very important, underrated act of ‘listening’.
Thank you one and all – please do not underestimate the part you played today, however seemingly small. As ever, we are indebted to the support of HBTSR – moral, practical and financial. It is heartwarming to know a group of people whose kindness and generosity knows no bounds.I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone whom I have missed out – there will be someone!
We look forward to our continuing partnership.
Grateful thanks from all of us from Swansea.