NOT even some of the worst snow seen for years could dampen the spirits of visitors and volunteers at the latest away day for refugees and people seeking asylum.

The Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) event was held at Ystradgynlais Christmas Fair, with help from the Mothers' Union and the loan of St Cynog's church hall.

HBTSR's Ailsa Dunn said: "What were we thinking planning an event to take place in midwinter miles from home? Well it was the persuasive powers of Ams Kingra of the Ystradgynlais society for arts trade and tourism and our supporter Maggie Vicuna, the talk about last year's fantastic fair and the chance that the local Syrian families would be involved that swung it.

"The festival plans sounded magical with reindeer, donkeys and Santa as well as a host of free activities, stalls and sights.

"Then the weather intervened. On Saturday, Ams rang to say the outdoor events were now all going to take place in the Miners' Welfare Hall or library but that the show would go on and our Swansea visitors were keen to come."

Lou, a pupil from Maesydderwen School offered to help with hosting and local Syrian families readily agreed to help in preparing food. Abercraf 'messy church' planned to do tea and mince pies in the afternoon. St Cynog's Mothers' Union arranged to set up the hall , put on the heating and to call in despite being very busy with the Christmas tree festival.

As food started to arrive from the local families, the Swansea group with some of the local families set off to experience the Christmas Fair and Christmas tree festival guided by Lou. They returned delighted with all they had seen and devoured the delicious food.

Hundreds of presents had been donated and wrapped for the visitors but many of these were snowed in at Brecon and will be delivered later in the week. Almost all of the usual supporters were snowed in and unable to attend so the day was much more interactive and 'DIY'. The visitors seemed to enjoy being more hands on and some of the ladies set up crafts and massage. They want to come again to help

"Many thanks are due to Ystradgynlais Society for Arts, Trade and Tourism for a great spectacle and day out, to St Cynog's Church, Canon Dewi Roberts and Rev David, Father Michael and the Mothers' Union and local people for a warm welcome , a venue and for so much help. Thanks to the messy church for cakes and taking over when the small Brecon and Hay party left to brave the snowy journey home. Thanks to Maggie for making everything possible and coordinating the Syrian Families catering and of course, thanks to all the Syrian Families for such lovely food," Ailsa said. Maggie added thanks to the visitors whose enthusiasm is infectious and inspirational.

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