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Moray business owners welcome Ukrainian refugees into Kinloss home

By Ewan Malcolm

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A MORAY couple have opened their doors to a Ukrainian mum and her young son.

From left; Ana (31), Barry (41), Alex (6) and Kirsty (39). Picture: Daniel Forsyth
From left; Ana (31), Barry (41), Alex (6) and Kirsty (39). Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Kinloss residents Kirsty and Barry Wilson welcomed Ana and her son Alex, who is just six years old, into their home last week.

The pair were forced to flee their home in Kherson shortly after Russia's invasion of the country earlier this year.

Witnessing the chaos and destruction on TV, Kirsty and Barry, who own the Hopeman Sands Café, acted quickly to offer their support in any way they could.

And, after going through OPORA Homes for Ukraine, the couple were put in touch with Ana's husband Illia.

"We initiated contact on Whatsapp in March," Kirsty said.

"There was no discussion between me and my husband we just knew that we needed to help.

"We texted Ana's husband who has actually remained in Ukraine but we're just so happy to have got Ana and Alex here where they're safe."

Martial law has been enforced in Ukraine. That means that Ana's brother as well as her husband are prohibited from leaving the country.

Ana's parents and grandparents also remain in Ukraine. She hasn't had any contact with them after Russia cut off all lines of communication to Kherson.

Kherson, which is located in the south of the country, was one of the first cities to be captured. Recent reports suggest that the Russians plan to annex the city.

Kirsty admits that has taken its toll on Ana and Alex.

"There's obvious trauma understandably," Kirsty said.

"There have been a few late nights and a few tears from Alex and it's been the same for Ana.

"She's had a few sleepless nights despite being absolutely exhausted.

"They feel safe though. They're not worrying about if they're still going to be here in the morning.

"That's the main thing, that they're safe."

Ana and Alex have fled their home in Kherson after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Ana and Alex have fled their home in Kherson after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Despite the understandable difficulties, the pair have started to settle into their new home.

That process has been helped by the local community who pitched in to get Alex a trampoline and a scooter that are now serving as handy distractions for the youngster.

"They've settled in far better than we could have hoped for," Kirsty added.

"We said to them from the beginning that this needs to be their home as well.

"They'll stay with us for as long as they need."

Kirsty and Barry have enlisted the help of an English tutor for the pair and Alex is set to start studying at Kinloss Primary School.

Meanwhile, Ana plans to get to work in the area once she feels up to the task after a harrowing few months.

Kirsty also arranged for the pair to meet another Ukrainian family that are currently living in Forres.

The family of six were due to move in with Kirsty and Barry initially but the couple had to find an alternative home for them as they did not have space to accommodate all six family members.

The meet up has helped the refugees feel more comfortable in the area and Kirsty has urged more Moray locals to offer accommodation to Ukrainians fleeing the war.

"I'd encourage anybody who feels that they can help to offer their support," Kirsty said.

"It's a terrible situation so if you have the means to help then go for it.

"It's the right thing to do."

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