In 1981, 16 people, from several families, were offered refuge in Okehampton after fleeing the Communist takeover of Vietnam.
The people who fled Vietnam often left in boats, and so came to be referred to as ‘boat people’.
In September 1980 Okehampton Town Council agreed to offer homes to three refugee families in the town. Two public meetings were held when early opposition to the plan was expressed. However, a local support group was formed to collect household goods and to raise funds for the refugees. Three houses in the newly built Giblands estate were allocated to the families.
In early 1981 the three families of boat people (actually from Cambodia) arrived and settled into their new homes at Giblands, with support from the local community. The children started at local schools.
In all there were 16 refugees. Many were families, with children – such as Choi Thien Thi, wife Chung Thi Tam (Cambodian, both in early 20s), and their 3 children.