FORMER well-known Cardigan vet Dic Thomas celebrated a very special birthday last August with a sponsored cycle ride from Cardigan Castle to Pembroke Castle.

The ride raised a whopping £4,500 – of which £1,500 went to Cardigan Swimming Pool, £1,500 to Paul Sartori and the final £1,500 to World at Play.

World at Play (WAP) was set up in Wales 15 years ago to deliver sport and developmental play to children and young people living in marginalised communities and the £1,500 Dic raised has certainly been put to good use.

Wendy Williams, World at Play senior manager, said: “We believe that every child has the right to play without fear, prejudice or intimidation and that this is a fundamental part of a child’s development.

“One of our projects is in a huge refugee camp in Uganda, home to more than 70,000 refugees. There are very few resources and it’s very obvious that many of the children here have suffered trauma, fear and huge losses.

“The £1,500 donated by Dic has enabled us to include three refugees from the Congo as members of our 2020 team of volunteers. Their insight has greatly increased and enhanced the value of our work with the children in the camp.

“In order to make our work sustainable we try to leave some of our equipment at the camp. Year after year we rely on donations to make this possible, and this year, thanks to this generous sponsorship I’m confident that some WAP equipment will remain at the Rwamwanja.”

And one of the refugee volunteers has now produced a report on his experiences helping others.

He said: “As a refugee who fled at the age of 10 from DR.Congo, I understand the obstacles refugee children and adults face when arriving in a new community like Uganda.

“It hurts a lot knowing that you once had a place to call home but one day you wake up and find that home is no longer home. Your dreams are interrupted which forces you to run and seek shelter where a different language is spoken and where you are given shelter, not a home.

“All these things remain in the minds and eyes of these children.

“A project like World at Play is a life-changing experience for the refugee children in Rwamwanja. Sport and play is a language spoken by all communities.

“After a week of training from WAP I went to Rwamwanja refugee camp with my team and very quickly realised that World at Play isn’t just providing sports and play sessions but also giving a home to these children.

“ When I say home I mean a space where they are able to smile and be free from memories of past bad experiences. When you have a home you have a space where you can think, hope and dream - I want to be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a politician.

“All this is what play makes possible for a child.”

The success of the scheme has delighted Dic, who added: “Sport is so important and it’s great that we have been able to do something like this.”