Torbay will be joining the rest of the nation this Friday to mark one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Civic Mayor of Torbay, Councillor Mandy Darling, will lead a minute’s silence outside the Town Hall in Castle Circus, Torquay, at 11am.
The moment of reflection will be one of many taking place across the UK simultaneously as the nation pays tribute to the bravery of Ukrainians and highlights our solidarity with the country as they continue their courageous fight.
All are welcome to attend the minute’s silence.
The seafront festoon lights will change to blue and yellow – the colours of the Ukraine flag – on the evening of 24 February and over the weekend.
A reflective church service will be held at St Paul’s Church in Preston at 6:30pm on Friday evening. This will be followed by tea and cake in the church hall. Priority will be given to Ukrainian guests, their hosts and other invitees, but the service is open to everyone.
Torbay Council and Torbay residents have supported the people of Ukraine since the war began, with many displaced Ukrainians seeking shelter in the Bay.
The council has received a total of 178 Ukrainian refugees under the Homes for Ukraine scheme since the first family arrived on the 5 April 2022.
The total number of Ukrainian refugees who have come to Torbay and engaged with the council is 209, although the number of Ukrainian refugees in the Bay is likely to be higher as not all who have arrived under the Ukraine Family Scheme may have been in contact.
There are currently 55 host families with 120 guests residing under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Many more have moved into private rented accommodation or left the area.
Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “Friday will be a difficult day for those directly affected by the Ukraine invasion. Many of us continue to find it hard to believe that continental Europe is facing a war that has touched all our lives in 2023.
“We wanted to mark the anniversary and show our continued support for Ukrainians, who many local people have generously welcomed into their homes in recent months. I would like to say thank you to them for their kindness and hospitality in welcoming strangers into their homes.”
Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said: “We think especially of those who have lost loved ones in the conflict and those still living there.
“It’s reassuring to see how the people of Torbay have come together to offer their support and we will continue to work with faith, voluntary and community groups who are helping those affected by this conflict.”
Torbay-Ukraine Support CIC has been instrumental in helping many guests by providing English Lessons at Upton Vale Baptist Church and social interaction at St Paul’s Church in Paignton.
Financial and other support has been made thanks to local charities including Torquay Rotary, Lions, the WI, and Coverdale Masons Lodge.
Hanna Shliukhtina, a Ukrainian who has been staying in Paignton, said: “When a full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine destroyed millions of Ukrainians’ lives, people who came here found a safe and peaceful place to restore themselves.
“I came here with my ten-year-old daughter. We are grateful for all the help from the council, volunteers, hosts, and all the English people. When we feel safe, we can learn. We have learnt a lot about history, both Europe and ours. We have learnt who is a real friend, who is a man of honour, and who cannot be trusted.
“While my daughter is at school, I spend most of my time learning the English language and culture, working, and trying to be as helpful as possible. As every Ukrainian, I am grateful for the given opportunities. I will keep the precious memories of the UK, Torbay, and the English people who I met here, for all my life.
“We all will take warm feelings about this place back to Ukraine. I strongly believe that the friendly and business relations that started here will be kept for years, and we all will share even more heartwarming stories.”
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