More than 200 people gathered around a Cross in a Cornish country lane today in a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
The Cross was erected in 1948 by Ukrainians who had fled Russian communists and who were offered refuge and sanctuary in Cornwall. The peaceful, countryside location is in stark contrast to the lives of the men who had faced persecution by the regime which had been installed in Ukraine by the Soviet Army. Hundreds of Ukrainians managed to escape and those who came to Cornwall were housed at a former prisoner of war camp until they were able to find jobs and accommodation of their own.
The men built a makeshift chapel and the memorial close to the camp to show their gratitude to the Cornish people for the welcome they had received as well as a testimony to their Christian faith.
Its inscription reads : "This symbol of faith in God was erected by Ukrainians who, escaping from Russian Communists, found refuge in England. 7th June 1948”.
Many people brought sunflowers – the national flower of Ukraine – and daffodils to the Cross today.
The Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen and the Bishop to the Armed Forces, Rt Rev Hugh Nelson spoke of the importance of praying with and for the people of Ukraine as well as for military personnel and their families.
Dasha Smith and her sister, Katya spoke movingly about coming to Cornwall from Ukraine with their mother, Alina at the age of nine. They are now desperately worried about their grandmother and uncle’s family who are living in Kherson, close to Antonavski Bridge which Russian troops are trying to capture. They talked about the pain of having loved ones caught up in the conflict.
Many other people shared their experiences and talked of the importance of showing a welcome to people in need.
After prayers and a two minute silence, the Ukrainian flag was draped on the Cross along with the St Piran flag, the national flag of Cornwall.
A Crowdfunding appeal has been set up to support families in Kherson.