King's Lynn became safe-haven for Ukrainian mother and daughter a year ago
It is a year since Ira Yurieva and her daughter Dasha fled from their hometown of Makariv in Ukraine to the safety of Lynn.
The anniversary is bittersweet for the mother and daughter who entered into the government Homes For Ukraine scheme to find safety in the UK.
Now settled with David and Abby Blackmore and their family in Lynn, Ira still has hope that one day her own family will be together again.
Her husband, sister, parents and friends remained in Ukraine in the small town close to Kyiv where she worked as a television journalist and provided a group for children and young people.
When Russian soldiers reached their home and occupied the area, shooting their mobile phones and ordering them to lie on the floor, Ira and husband made the difficult decision for her and Dasha to flee.
Once Ira had made contact with David and Abby who offered her and Dasha a place of sanctuary, packing up the car, with a friend, a week of travel ensued across Poland, Germany and Holland.
With all the necessary paperwork filled in and visas organised, Ira and Dasha then sailed from the Hook of Holland and arrived in Harwich port to start life in England.
Ira said: “It was like the first day of summer.
“We were such a long distance from my parents, sister and husband and I felt sad inside.
“But I understood that it is safe and I do not have to look around for soldiers.
“I could sleep well because we were so tired.
“Sometimes I dream about the bad situation and Dasha used to wake up sad and scared.
“I wanted to cry but we understand we need to be strong.
“War was all around us.
“On one side there were Russian soldiers and the other Ukrainian soldiers and we were between.
“It was so hard and we couldn’t do anything.
“If it was dark we knew it was the night and if it was light it was the day but the soldiers allowed us to do nothing.
“So many people were killed around us and died in our region.
“I still have a bad picture in my memory and never can forget about this.
“It is a bad page in our history and I wish it never happened again.
“People may worry about having expensive things but I worry about friends and family.
“We want to help our country, our people are so friendly and if peace comes to us we want to rebuild our city and country.
“I hope for that.”
Dasha is now 16 and has settled into school life at Springwood High and enjoys painting and art.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the UK this week to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ira said: “I am proud of Zelenskyy, he is strong and I feel victory is near.
“We are hopeful and I take strength and cling on to that all the time.”
For now her family are David and Abby who along with their three children have helped Ira connect with life in Lynn.
Ira said: “When I arrived Abby smiled and made me a lovely cup of tea.
“David and Abby are like a big family with the things we do every day and have dinner together at the big table.
“This family is like our family and we have had Christmas and New Year and had holidays together.
“If I need help I can ask.
“This country is very similar to mine, the weather, green trees and friendly people.
“Everyone tries to help and asks us if we are okay.
“We visited a church to light a candle for the people who have died.
“It is nice for us to be safe, to sleep and for my daughter to study so we are not worried.
"One wish is that my family will be together again.”