THE Harbour Project has received a top honour from the High Sheriff of Wiltshire.

Volunteers and users of the charity, which supports Swindon refugees and asylum speakers, welcomed Nicky Alberry and Mayor Junab Ali to their base with open arms.

Mrs Alberry arrived in a court dress outfit she saves for special occasions and presented the team with the High Sheriff’s Award.

She said: “I feel like I’m amongst friends here, I’ve always enjoyed visiting and hearing about all the fantastic and important work you do.

“High sheriffs acknowledge great work in our community and help other people recognise it, which is why it’s a privilege to be back and an honour to present this award. When I moved to Swindon I only intended to stay for 12 months yet here I am 30 years later, you will all be made very welcome in our town.”

Coun Ali said: “One of the reasons I chose this organisation to be one of my mayoral charities was because it’s welcoming to people who have been through so much suffering, it gives them a bit of dignity and treats them like human beings instead of numbers, which overwhelmed me.

“I’m from an immigrant background but my family never faced some of the dangers you have. There is still a stigma about refugees and this project is getting rid of that.There are 132 languages spoken in this town and that tremendous diversity enriches Swindon, we are all human and we are all Swindonians.”

Harbour Project chairman David Rowlands said: “We are a family here, we’re all equal and it’s wonderful to get this recognition from the High Sheriff and the mayor, who have given us so much support and encouragement in their professional and personal capacities, we are so grateful, thank you both.”

The project’s users listened intently as the High Sheriff explained the fascinating history and responsibilities of her role, tucked into a small buffet of baklava and biscuits, then happily posed for photos.