Ukrainian mum and daughter start new life in Keynsham

July 28 2022
Ukrainian mum and daughter start new life in Keynsham

A UKRAINIAN mother and daughter now living in Keynsham want to make contact with other refugees from their war-torn homeland.

Liudmyla Grebenyuk and her daughter Anna fled from the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, which had suffered heavy shelling for months following the Russian invasion.

They were hiding in an underground shelter below their apartment block when the building was destroyed by a missile.

It took them a week to travel to Poland, where they spent about three months in a refugee camp before flying to the UK. They were greeted at Heathrow Airport by Kev and Mae Draper, who have taken them into their home in Keynsham.

Kev said: “My wife and I have introduced them to a Ukrainian group based in Emersons Green, but we would really like to hear from more Ukrainians.

“Liudmyla is learning English, most often in conversation with our permanent live-in grandaughter Angelica, who has just turned three years old and learning English herself!

“Anna already speaks basic English but is obviously keen to speak better.”

Liudmyla hopes to find work as a beautician, for which she has qualifications back in Ukraine.

Anna, aged 17, has been in contact with Wellsway School with a view to furthering her education. She would like to study psychology as her main A-level subject.

Kev said: “Some very kind volunteers are also helping teach them - and other Ukrainians - English on Saturdays at Saltford Village Hall.”

Anna has told Kev and Mae about what it was like in the bomb shelter in the period before the missile struck.

“It was absolutely freezing. She could hear bombs whizzing over the rooftops and was petrified with the uncertainty of where they were going to land. It became so intense, happening night after night.”

While in the refugee camp, Liudmyla slipped in heavy rain and broke her leg. Her ankle is still in plaster.

“They appear to be adjusting and settling in OK, although I think they are putting on a brave face to what must be a very stressful time for them.”

It is understood that the whereabouts of Liudmyla’s husband is unknown.

Kev spoke about what led up to the decision to offer Liudmyla and Anna a home.

“I was volunteering on the Ukrainian border, picking up refugees who were fleeing from life-threatening dangers.

“I drove many mothers and their children through Poland, where they would be safe, and that’s when I first considered that my wife Mae and I had sufficient space in our house that could be shared and lived in by refugees.

“After discussing the idea with Mae, I contacted the charity Love Bristol, who had a temporary booth in a refugee centre in Przemysl, on the Polish/ Ukrainian border.”

Liudmyla and Anna have been experiencing cultural differences in the UK, such as attending the recent Pride festival in Bristol.

Kev said: “They’re amazed how many women drivers there are. In Ukraine, women have less freedom and less voice.”

Any Ukrainians who would like to contact Liudmyla and Anna can do so via Kev by email at or by phoning him on 07810 343084.

Kev plans to return to volunteering duties in Ukraine in a few weeks’ time and would like to hear from anyone who can source emergency medical equipment such as tourniquets, bandages, penicillin and external fixators. He would also like a BBC cameraman called Phil Morse, who lives locally, to get in touch

• Pictured, Mae and Kev Draper with Anna and Liudmyla at Bristol Pride