The North East has a real connection with and affection for the people of Ukraine. We recently published a piece on support and solidarity from Sunderland by Michal Chantkowski, as well as a series of articles on Ukrainian culture and fashion by Dr Jayne Hamilton. This weekend, former MEP (Labour), Julie Ward, travelled from County Durham to London to speak at Join Hands for Ukraine, an event in support of Ukrainian people at the Royal Albert Hall.
The event took place outside the concert hall where there was an historic concert by the newly formed Ukraine Freedom Orchestra who are currently touring Europe and the USA.
The speeches at Join Hands for Ukraine
In her speech, Julie Ward paid tribute to the people of Ukraine, mentioning those who have lost their lives, those who are defending their country and culture and the many workers continuing to do their work in very difficult circumstances. She also spoke of the Russian soldiers “mostly young men, who were ill-informed and unprepared, hapless cannon fodder for a dangerous dictator.”
The human rights lawyer, Margaret Owen OBE, who is founder of the NGO Widows For Peace Through Democracy also spoke at the event about the terrible disproportionate impact of the war on women
“The Star of European Unity is an eloquent and visible symbol of the European values that we must all strive to promote and protect. It is what many in the UK seek to regain, and what the Ukrainian people have set their sights on – it embodies light and hope in times of darkness and despair.
“The small group of people who created the Star of European Unity are nothing if not big-hearted. Today’s solidarity action with the Ukrainian people is their inspirational initiative, bringing together many different groups with overlapping aims, giving energy and a focus to the expression of Ukrainian culture as personified by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and the extraordinary Quilt for Ukraine.”
Julie concluded her speech by saying:
“We live in dark and difficult times but when we come together to share and celebrate our humanity, as we are today, holding hands for Ukraine, we feel the power of collective action and we know that, in the end, good will prevail.”
Circle of solidarity
It was a very moving event with around 300 people joining the action. People held the quilt pieces in a big circle of solidarity on the stepped approach to the front entrance of the Royal Albert Hall.
Peter Benson, of Thank EU for the Music said:
“As we left at the end of a very emotional and poignant day, I must admit to a feeling of defiance. Here was a piece of art that was embraced and held by so many after the special freedom concert at the Royal Albert Hall. People wanted to be part of the event in their hundreds and the speeches and music were so moving.
“On seeing the star of Europe on one of the quilts it signified that all of Europe and the world are standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine in their time of need.”
“It was an honour for our group Thank EU for the Music to help and assist at this very unique event, the fist public display of the giant quilt.
“A hug for Ukraine“
The event was organised by Thank EU for the Music, SECD and UK’s Star of European Unity.
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