Ukrainian family fleeing Russian missiles find peace in Garstang

A family fleeing the war in Ukraine have spoken of their relief and joy at finding a new home near Garstang.

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 7:16 am

Ukrainian flags were put up as Mykhailo and Olena Petrochenko and their three children arrived at Acresfield Park.

Michael and Julie Ward who run the retirement home park with their children Alex and Sophie have provided the family with a free apartment.

Social worker Mykhailo,35, and translator Olena,36, hope they can return to Ukraine as soon as possible to help rebuild their country.

Pictured from left Misha, Davyd, Solomia, Pasha and Lena Petrochenko outside their new apartment Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Meanwhile they are delighted at the welcome they have received.

Their two oldest children Solomilia, nine, and six-year-old Pavlo have settled into school at St Mary and St Michael’s primary school at Garstang and the youngest Davyd, four, will start in September.

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The family lived in Rivne in western Ukraine where Olena’s mother still lives. She declined to leave and the family anxiously listen and watch news reports, hoping for her continued safety and that of their friends in an area which has already been bombarded by Russian forces.

Happier days for Davyd, Misha, Solomia, Lena and Pasha Petrochenko pictured inside their new apartment at Acresfield Park Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Olena said: “People are very kind and helpful. Of course we are homesick and would like to come back home as soon as possible, for now it is impossible. We just need to be where we are. We are very thankful because it is safe here.”

The children are particularly enjoying using the Acresfield spa swimming pool.

She added: “Neighbours come and ask all the time do we need anything. They gave gifts and treats for the children. It warms our hearts and we are so happy and so thankful. The school is different compared with Ukrainian schools because there are so many activities.”

It was Alex who learned of the family’s plight from a friend. An eight-week wait followed while visas and other permissions were arranged. Meanwhile the Petrochenko family moved temporarily to Hungary.

The Petrochenko family pictured with Michael and Alex Ward, directors of Acresfield Health Club and Spa Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Park owner Michael said: “We have all been horrified by the atrocities taking place in Ukraine following the Russian invasion...We feel very privileged to be in a position where we can help, and residents here at Acresfield have welcomed the Petrochenkos into their community with open arms...There’s no lack of volunteers willing to do whatever they can to help. The family’s future is, of course, still uncertain – but they will be welcome to stay here as long as they need, and to enjoy the peace so cruelly denied to their own country.”

He also praised Park staff who have learned basic Ukrainian.

In addition a support network has been established by the local council and the family is building its English language skills.

Asked about any key differences noted since their arrival Olena said it is the cost of food. She said: “The prices are very different. In the Ukraine we could easily buy fruit whereas here it’s too expensive! Meat tastes different.”

Of the ongoing conflict, she said: “Every day we just think oh it’s a nightmare, but no it’s the reality and we read the news every day and it’s getting worse and who knows actually what it’s going to be even tomorrow. In the future we hope it will finish and we will all be reunited to rebuild so much destroyed, hospitals, schools, even homes.”