Big-hearted couple near Harborough take Ukrainian refugee family into their home​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

They have just completed the dangerous journey after feeling their homeland in the war-torn Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. And that is when the Clarkes in Great Oxendon came to the rescue.

By Red Williams
Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:47 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:53 pm

A big-hearted couple from a village near Market Harborough are looking after a refugee family from the war-torn Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Angus and Kirsty Clarke have opened their home in Great Oxendon to Hanna and Gennadii and their young son Yegor as they flee their homeland after it was invaded by Russia.

The grateful family have also been handed a laptop by the Harboro Rubber Company, a major Market Harborough employer, to help them make a new start in the UK.

Kirsty Clarke, Tim Windle (sales director at Harboro Rubber Co (HRC)), Yegor, Hanna and Gennadi, Matthew Atkinson (HRC IT), Angus Clarke and Steve Brown (technical director at HRC).

The Clarkes are helping out after moving to Great Oxendon in 2006 and setting up a “small regenerative farm” focusing on Highland cattle and sheep along with a farm shop.

“While driving my tractor I listened to a programme that interviewed Ukrainian women that had escaped Ukraine with nothing.

“They were then helped by Polish people giving up rooms in their flats and houses.

“One story was about a young lad walking home one night who found two women and three children sheltering in a bus stop,” Angus told the Harborough Mail.

“He took them back to his one-bedroom flat and let them have the bedroom for several days while they found somewhere more appropriate!

“I thought if he could do that then the least we could do is to create a little granny flat and invite someone over.

“I asked my sons first to check that I was thinking it through.

“I knew if I told Kirsty what I wanted to do, her caring nature would kick in and she would want to help.

“The boys said yes and Kirsty immediately agreed.”

Listening to BBC radio’s Test Match Special, Angus heard an interview with ex-England cricket star Stuart Meaker.

The former fast bowler ferried vital supplies to the Polish border as he linked up with a charity from Bristol helping Ukrainians.

Angus messaged him on Facebook - and Meaker put him in touch with Love Bristol who find candidates.

“Hanna and Yegor come from Bakhmut, which is now only five miles from the Russian front.

“They lived in an apartment in a small city, very different to our little village.

“However, following a couple of interviews, we were registered as their hosts,” said the farmer.

Weeks later Hanna and Yegor got their visas and Love Bristol bussed them and 10 other refugees to the UK.

Angus and Kirsty picked them up on Saturday April 30.

“Hanna and Yegor were tired and anxious about how this was going to work.

“Hanna told us of the dangerous journey from Bakhmut to Poland.

“The train station in the city where they started their train journey was shelled just after they left killing 50 people.

“Within about five days we could see her relax and that sense of humour started to come through,” said Angus.

“After two weeks Hanna's husband Gennadii contacted us to see if we would host him as well.

“He had been ill in Kyiv when the war started and got out weeks after her.

“It didn’t take too much thinking about - and we were glad to agree to be his hosts too,” said Angus.

“Complete strangers have offered help, clothes, and English lessons.

“Harboro Rubber offering a laptop and IT support will help our refugees to quickly become functioning members of our society.

“They are proud people and they want to support themselves and then they want to join in.

“We were just the front line in an outpouring of help and generosity,” said the farmer.

“Hanna used to work in a meat processing plant so she has knife skills and can help us in the farm shop.

“Gennadii is an electrical engineer so wanders around our farm fixing things!”

Hanna, 50, told us: “We are from the Donbas.

“In this difficult time for my country, we are forced to leave our home.

“We are in the UK represented by our sponsors Angus and Kirsty and many Englishmen (and women) have extended a helping hand to us.

“It is difficult at 50 years of age to start living from a scratch sheet, but we will be persistent and diligent for the future of our children,” vowed Hanna.

“Today the Harboro Rubber Company decided to give our family a laptop and we are very grateful to them.

“We will never forget every gesture of the people who support us here.”

Matthew Atkinson, an IT assistant at Harboro Rubber Company, said: “I was thrilled to be able to give back to those in need after the devastation that is spreading throughout the Ukrainian region.

“The laptop will prove to be a vital tool in their pocket to enable normal life to return within the refuge of the United Kingdom - as well as providing an educational source and even light entertainment,” said Matthew.

“I hope the laptop is a source of new life and is cherished for a few years to come.”

The directors of Harboro Rubber Co, based on Market Harborough’s Riverside industrial estate, said: “To have the opportunity to help even in a small way is wonderful, to do something with that opportunity having met the family is humbling.

“If you can help someone please do so, you will be amazed at how you feel afterwards.”