A long way from conflict as families seek sun in the dales

Enjoying the sun with new friends in Askrigg

By Betsy Everett

Twenty five asylum seekers from conflict-torn areas such asYemen, Georgia, Albania, Azerbaijan and the Congo, came to Askrigg last week to enjoy a day of Wensleydale hospitality.

They watched farmer James Hodgson of Lowlands Farm hand-shearing a Swaledale sheep, before feedings the hens, stroking the family sheepdog and taking a wildflower walk through the fields to the river Ure.

In the hot summer sun they played on the stepping stones and skimmed pebbles with the local children who were their hosts and playmates for the day, sharing their toys and bikes.
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Volunteers from Askrigg and the national park headquarters in Bainbridge helped with animal mask and badge making, creating collages from grasses and daisies, while visitors and villagers alike enjoyed the run of the school playing field for races and doge ball.

They enjoyed a vegetarian lunch at the Yorebridge sport and leisure centre, supplied by the Peacock family’s Cornmill Tea Room in Bainbridge, and tubs of ice cream from Gill Harrison’s Wensleydale Ice Cream in Thornton Rust – all hand-delivered by the owners.

The families who are living in Darlington while their applications for asylum are sanctioned, are cared for by Darlington Assistance for Refugees (DAR). 

Judy Nicholls with new friend K

Judy Nicholls of Askrigg, who organised the day with the local Quaker community – Bainbridge Quaker Meeting funded the whole day, including the coach – said the day of sunshine, relaxation and games had exceeded her wildest expectations.

“Like a lot of people I felt totally helpless when watching the news of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing from horrendous circumstances in so many countries and wondered what we could do . 

“We had such tremendous support from the local community for this special day – from the vicar, Dave Clark, the Hodgson family, the national park, local children and families. It was such a wonderful joint effort and the teamwork and friendship from start to finish is what we in Wensleydale are so very good at. To see the asylum seeker children playing so happily with our local youngsters was a joy.” Gemma Anderson of Askrigg said: “ What a wonderful time our children had. I was so proud of them sharing their space and toys and they learnt so much from the day.  I know Heather and James [Hodgson] felt the same as Colin and I. We were so pleased to be part of it all and had to drag ourselves away at the end of the day.” Judy Nicholls full report here

Playing on the stepping stones on the River Ure, Askrigg

1 Comment

  1. Tell me again how anyone can get from any of the countries mentioned without passing through at least one “safe” country in which to claim asylum as per the Dublin rules?

    At least be honest and acknowledge they are ‘economic migrants’.

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