This was a proud day for The FAN Charity and everyone who comes to FAN Meetings. The Welsh Assembly Government had offered Gill our Secretary, a Recognition Award 2010, for her work with FAN Groups in ‘Promoting Tolerance’ – the focus of this year’s Awards.
She contacted the First Minister to explain that she couldn’t possibly accept this as a ‘personal’ award because every single person who comes to FAN is helping to promote tolerance. We all come in a spirit of friendship ready to respect and listen to others who come. We are ‘together’ trying to make a better and more supportive world for each other.
To our great pleasure the First Minister for Wales, Mr. Carwyn Jones agreed that the Award could be accepted in the name of everyone who comes to FAN Meetings. This was made clear at the Ceremony which took place at Caerphilly Castle on Thursday 25th March, 2010.
Four FAN friends attended the Ceremony representing FAN attendees who come from Wales, the United Kingdom and over 80 other countries. The only sadness was that we couldn’t all turn up and show just how many people there are who do want to hold out their hands in friendship across one human family. There would not have been room in the hall for everyone who comes to FAN!
It was difficult to choose guests from FAN to attend this occasion as so many special men and women of all ages come to FAN and work hard to make sure all feel welcome.
It was a grey, cold, wet and windy day – but nothing could suppress the excitement of Gill, Zahra, Rubina and Muna as they crossed the drawbridge into the ancient castle of Caerphilly. There was a live orchestra in the banqueting hall where the tables were set for guests and they all enjoyed the music.
Gill, Zahra, Ruby and Muna presented the First Minister with a fan that had been given to us by a Chinese friend Wang Zhi Song whom we called Jason. Everyone loved Jason when he came to our FAN Meetings and he was a wonderful representative of his country while he studied in Wales. The Minister was delighted with his gift and happy to be photographed with FAN attendees at the Celebration – he even advertised us by holding up a FAN information card.
The FAN attendees were impressed with the number of guests who wore great chains of office made of Welsh gold – and were thrilled to be photographed with the Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil and the Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Ruby in particular wanted to have a photo taken with the Mayor of Merthyr because her husband works at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr. The Mayor told her that the next Mayor of Merthyr would be a doctor from Prince Charles Hospital and he worked at the A & E Unit.
When the recipients went up to accept the Award from the First Minister – the four representatives of FAN proudly went together, as Gill received on behalf of us all, the attractive cut glass vase with a map of Wales created by the Head of Design at the Royal Mint and with the words engraved on it ‘For Service to Wales’.
We hope all of you who come to FAN Meetings and anyone who is thinking of coming can accept this Award is for each one of us as we continue to live together in a spirit of friendship and try to make a better world. We do this so simply – by giving one hour a week to a FAN Meeting. In that hour our job is to ‘listen’ without speaking and to respect each person in the group who has an opportunity to speak when it is their turn. It is a very special way to get to know people. After only four or five times you really feel you know the people who come.
Our thanks to the officials and dignatories at the banquet for their interest in our project and to service staff for the delicious meal, to the musicians – everyone – for making each one of us feel so welcome.
Our most sincere thanks go to Oxfam Cymru, the Millennium Stadium Charity Trust and the Tudor Trust who have awarded FAN much needed grants to support our work.
Here’s to FAN! All of us! FAN stands for Friends And Neighbours and Friends Across Nations. We are all part of this great human family and we want to hold hands across the world. When we really listen, we understand.
If you have never been – do try it – if you can only come three or four times a year – what a huge network we will have. It renews our faith and hope for the future of humanity.
Keep coming to FAN Meetings!