Fun-filled day out helps refugees smile again

Picture by Martha Barrett of some of the special visitors
Picture by Martha Barrett of some of the special visitors

It was the picture which moved millions of hearts – an image of three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose dead body was found washed up on a Turkish beach two years ago.

The death of the tragic youngster shocked everyone and woke the world to the plight of refugees.

Barrow couple Tom and Kathryn Clay were among those who set out to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers living in the North West.

They organised and invited 120 refugees from Manchester and Burnley for a fun-filled, memorable and community day out in Clitheroe on Saturday.

Tom said: “We heard that the refugees in Manchester don’t see a lot of countryside and we thought what better way to make them feel welcome than to bring them out to the British countryside ... and that’s just what we did.”

The humanitarian-focused initiative, which isin its second year, centred on the basic principles of sharing and fellowship.

The day was led by the Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Valley – the Catholic communities of Clitheroe, Sabden and Dunsop Bridge, who all helped to raise over £1,100 prior to the event – but held in collaboration with the Manchester-based humanitarian charity Revive, who organised the transport, the local Christian Churches and the Clitheroe Mosque community which provided a banquet for everyone,

The day’s itinerary included a tour of Clitheroe Castle and the museum, a scenic walk along the River Ribble to Grindleton and delicious food prepared and served by members of the local mosque, while The Mayor of Clitheroe, Maureen Fenton, was greeted with flowers by five-year-old Eimaan Bhinder.

Speaking about the well-organised and successful event, Kathryn said: “It was such a humbling and wonderful experience to see the many children there taking such delight at the thought of a real castle and exploring the various exhibition rooms of the old museum: a resource many of us who have it so often take for granted.

“Not even the grey drizzle could dampen the spirit of the day, especially with a display of Morris dancing, a revelation to some of our visitors and a delightful local experience which was filmed and captured by many.”

In addition to presents and organised games for the children, the emergence of the “Mr Whippy” ice cream van was the icing on the cake – a novelty which sparked much excitement from all.