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Friendship, poetry and Freedom from Torture

Aberystwyth anti-torture fundraiser packed

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Aberystwyth tells HSBC to Stop Arming Israel, 15 September. Photo: Janice de Haaff

The Friendship Inn in Borth, near Aberystwyth, was packed to the rafters on 8 September as people gathered for the potentially solemn purpose of raising funds in support of ‘Freedom from Torture’. This organisation dreams of a world free from torture but, until such time, it supports survivors of torture in rebuilding their lives and it works to bring perpetrators to account.

The vision for the Borth fundraiser was that people would gather and entertain one another, while giving generously to the collecting tin. It was a sound vision as the evening evolved into a happening that well outstripped my expectations.

The first ‘turn’ of the evening was a beautiful collaboration between Carey Glyn-Jones who recited her poem, ‘Somewhere else’, and members of the Aberystwyth based campaigning choir Côr Gobaith, accompanying her with Helen Chadwick’s song ‘Home’.

Following this, members of the gathering read or recited poetry spontaneously – a format that proved most successful.

One early contribution was a lovely reading of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem, ‘We Refugees’. After this, and as a surprisingly large number of contributors read their own work, the tone became less serious by degrees until one poet, claiming to be new to the art, had us hooting with laughter, and another was emboldened to read us a work in progress.

The entertainment finished quite naturally with the choir performing Commoners Choir’s rousing sing-along song, ‘Citizen Shanty’. Most gratifyingly, £200 was raised for Freedom from Torture.

Further information: www. freedomfromtorture.org