Teenage Ukrainian refugee delighted at bike gift from Newport community

A teenage cycling and fitness fanatic, who fled Ukraine with his sister, is settling into his new home in Shropshire thanks to the kindness of strangers and with a restored bicycle.

Ivan Prybuda, 16, centre, with Kev Sleigh of Bike-Tek, left, and and Dan Jennings
Ivan Prybuda, 16, centre, with Kev Sleigh of Bike-Tek, left, and and Dan Jennings

Ivan Prybuda, aged 16, arrived with his sister, Hanna, aged 28, in Newport, about five weeks ago from war-torn Kharkiv.

Local people have helped him get back into his exercise regime by building him a mountain bike. When he was given the bike Ivan said it was amazing and would help him cope with the stress of the upheaval.

Kharkiv in the North East of Ukraine is the country's second largest city, many of its buildings reduced to rubble by the Russian bombing.

Ivan and Hanna are the nephew and niece of Pamela Jennings, a 38-year-old urgent care practitioner who works at a doctor's surgery in Wolverhampton.

Ivan Prybuda is delighted with his new bike

Her husband, Daniel Jennings,a 36-year-old paramedic with West Midland Ambulance Service, said: "My wife's nephew and niece arrived from Kharkiv about four weeks ago to stay with us at our home in Newport.

"Back home in Ukraine, Ivan was very much into his cycling and fitness and this has helped with his mental health since being here in the UK.

"A friend who is a regular customer of Bike-Tek in Newport, Rich Matheson, who is heavily into mountain-biking, posted on Facebook that he was going to build a bike for Ivan and asked for spare parts.

"Someone donated the bike and Bike-Tek responded and have helped with the restoration free of charge."

Ivan was overjoyed when handed the bike this week.

He said: "Wow, this is just amazing. I like exercise and this will help me with stress and I just cannot thank people enough."

Mr Jennings said his wife only discovered that she had a niece and nephew six years ago and since then has kept in touch through Facebook.

"When the war in Ukraine started we wanted to do something to help and they arrived having got over here on a family visa as refugees.

"Unfortunately, my wife's sister in Kharkiv cannot leave as her husband is looking after his elderly mother and they cannot escape from the war-torn Ukraine."

He added: "Meanwhile, we are trying to help Ivan and Hanna settle into life in this country.

"Hanna has been offered a job at a restaurant in Telford and Ivan would like to return to full-time education over here as he ultimately wants to be a mechanical engineer.

"The bike will eventually help him get to school and eventually to work until he can drive.

"Ivan misses his mother and father massively, although they are in regular contact through Facebook Messenger.

"He was in tears this morning but as soon as he was handed the bike he was all smiles again."

Kevin Sleigh, the owner of Bike-Tek, said: "We have rebuilt the suspension forks and brakes and serviced the bike which was donated by friends in the local community through Facebook.

"People hear about conflicts far away but the war in Ukraine is so close and if it was our children we would want to help."

"We are really pleased how it has turned out and the bike looks amazing."

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