Sunflowers and ‘Sarnies’ as Council Welcomes Ukrainians

Published: 25th August 2022

Ukraine independence day 2022
FLYING THE FLAG - Ribble Valley Mayor Stuart Hirst hosted a reception marking Ukraine Independence Day.

Bundles of sunflowers and plates of good old-fashioned British butties were on the agenda when a council marked Ukraine Independence Day.

Around 50 Ukrainians currently being hosted in Ribble Valley as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme were welcomed to the Ribble Valley Civic Suite by the borough’s mayor, Stuart Hirst.

He welcomed them in Ukrainian, before telling them via a translator that they enjoyed the goodwill and support of the borough.

“We welcome you today to offer our hospitality on behalf of the people of the borough as our guests and friends and we hope that, despite your thoughts and worries, we can share this important day with you.

“Please be assured that you share the overwhelming support and goodwill of the British Government and people of the United Kingdom, and we salute your heroic defence of your country and your courage in standing firm for the principles of freedom and democracy.”

The mayor was thanked on behalf of the guests by ‘Svetlana’, who hails from Dnipro, before another guest, ‘Huz’, gave a powerful rendition of a Ukrainian folk song praising family and country.

The guests were handed sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine, before tucking into a traditional British buffet.

Ribble Valley has flung open its doors to Ukrainians fleeing the brutal invasion of their country by Putin’s Russia, with over 50 households taking part in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, one of the highest rates in Lancashire.

And in July a birch tree common in the Balkan states was planted in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle and blessed by the Rev. Andy Froud, of Clitheroe Parish Church, as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Ribble Valley Borough Council has also appointed a Ukraine liaison officer, while several community groups and churches have stepped up to support refugees, notably the Clitheroe Ukrainian Support Project, or CUSP, which runs a dedicated hub from 9.15am to noon on Mondays (Trinity Church, Parson Lane), Wednesdays (United Reformed Church, Castlegate) and Fridays (St James’s Church, St James’s Street).