FIVE hundred people attended a hugely successful music event in Tunbridge Wells to herald the arrival of Syrian refugees to the area.

The Festival of Hope at The Forum on October 8 was held to welcome families and individuals who have settled in the town after leaving their homes in the wartorn nation.

The gig was organised by Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees [TWWR] and £1,100 in donations were collected to fund the group’s ongoing work.

TWWR Chair and festival organiser Maura Richards said: “What a wonderful day. Everyone talked about the atmosphere and the energy and how alive it all was. The highlight was seeing our Syrian friends so happy.”

The line-up of six bands included the Syrian All Stars, professional musicians from the Middle Eastern country, and the Kent-based Orange Circus Band. Authentic Syrian cuisine, homemade waffles and face painting were also on offer to attendees.

Amanda Lynch, who helped to put on the concert, added: “We did this to raise people’s consciousness about the plight of refugees and how we can help.

“During the festival I realised that the consciousness was already there – people
just needed a time and a place to express it.”

TWWR works alongside official agencies to support refugees in the town. The organisation is run by local volunteers and aims to promote a positive attitude towards refugees in the area.