Community Gathering and Tree Planting in Westbury Gardens

Bradford on Avon residents gathered in Westbury Gardens to mark a year since the invasion of Ukraine.

The town’s Ukrainian community hosted the event as part of the national Masnytsia festival. Masnytsia is a religious folk festival celebrated in parts of Eastern Europe.

Mayor Katie Vigar and Councillor Sam Blackwell spoke at the event:

“Thank you for being here today, your presence is a tribute to the courage and resilience of all of the Ukrainians here – as well as the determination of the town in its support of Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” said Councillor Vigar.

“It’s always hard to know what can counter the horror of war – but the welcome offered by the people of Bradford on Avon and the fortitude, friendship and fun that characterise our Ukrainian guests gives us that crucial hope that good will prevail.”

“We may be Ukrainian; we may be English; but in Bradford on Avon, we are not 2 separate peoples – we’re a united community.”

“I encourage everyone to read the words on the plaque by the beautiful trees we’re about to plant – and to appreciate their meaning.”

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in making our Ukrainian guests feel at home here – but above all I want to thank our Ukrainian residents for all you have given us. And for these trees that you have given us – that will forever remind our town of all that you have meant to us.”

As well as planting the Guelder roses, there were poetry readings at the event, and a choir sang the Ukrainian national anthem.

Among the many volunteers who made the event a success, Ukrainian chef Iryna Malenko and husband Roman treated residents to traditional Ukrainian pancakes – called mlyntsi – serving up over 600 portions. 

The event raised £1,800 from community donations, with half of funds used to support educational and social activities for Ukrainians in Bradford on Avon; and the remainder supporting charities supplying medical and protective equipment in Ukraine.