Shropshire Star

People of Shrewsbury hold hands in solidarity with Ukraine in vigil on anniversary of invasion

An emotional vigil for peace and in remembrance of loved ones killed during the war in Ukraine was held in Shropshire on the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

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Olah Voropai at the vigil in the Quarry park

More than 50 people held hands in a circle around the war memorial in Shrewsbury's Quarry Park to stand in solidarity with Ukrainian refugees and to remember family members killed.

Among them were Ukrainian nationals who are aching to go back to their beautiful country but expressed their thanks to the Shropshire community for their friendship and support.

The vigil for Ukraine in Shrewsbury

Also there was Stanislav Kudym, 31, his wife Tetiana, 32, and their seven-year-old daughter Kira, who is in remission from the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Stanislav said: "We lived near an army base in Cherkasy and we were spending most of the time in the air raid shelters. We decided we had to leave other members of our family behind to save our daughter.

"We were told that the conditions were not good for her and her cancer."

So in September last year the small family packed their lives into three pieces of luggage and fled the country, after getting a visa to come to the UK.

"The most difficult thing was deciding which of Kira's toys we could bring because we could not pack them all," said Stanislav, who worked as an interpreter in Ukraine and is doing the same now in the UK while working for Shropshire Supports Refugees.

Tetiana worked in government procurement in Ukraine - on Friday she started work as a cleaner.

Stanislav, who is a big Manchester United supporter, and his family are now living with a host family in Hanwood who he said were among the best people he has ever known.

"We were living an amazing life with our plans and dreams but everything has changed for us since February 24, 2022," he said.

"We have had incredible support and I had even heard of the Shrewsbury Hub while in Ukraine.

"We are looking forward to going back when the war is over, we miss our family, once the terrorists leave our country."

Also there was Olha Voropai, 26, who lived in Kyiv until last April when the Russians were threatening the Ukrainian capital.

The vigil for Ukraine

She also works for Shropshire Supports Refugees and believes Ukraine will win the war. She told the crowd that this was the "toughest year" for Ukraine.

Amanda Jones, the vigil organiser from Shropshire Supports Refugees, invited the crowd, some of whom were draped in the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag, to join hands and think of peace and then to think of all those who had died.

She said: "I thought it was a wonderful turnout. I am a big believer in the power of people being together and thinking the same thing at the same time. You have to visualise what you want and we want peace in Ukraine. The biggest counter to war is people coming together."

Shrewsbury's mayor Councillor Elisabeth Roberts said: "It is an honour to be able to say 'welcome here' to our Ukrainian friends. I think it is us who have benefitted more by having these wonderful people here.

Shrewsbury mayor Elisabeth Roberts at the vigil for Ukraine

"It does not mean we do not care about the homeless, it is just that here and now, this is what we are paying attention to.

"It is by sheer luck where we are born, and the Ukrainian people are human beings to whom we need to show our support."

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