Flags out as Ukrainian family finds safe haven in Lancs

Alex and Michael Ward (left) of Acresfield Park welcome to their residential park the Petrochenko family who are seen here with their friends in Garstang, the Blundell family, who helped arrange their passage to Britain

UKRAINIAN FLAGS have been put out by residents of a Lancashire retirement park who this summer welcomed a young Ukrainian family into their community.

Acresfield Park in the market town of Garstang is now home to Mykhailo Petrochenko and his wife Olena plus their three young children.

The family recently fled war-torn Ukraine from Rivne, a town in the west of the country some 200 miles from its capital Kyiv.

The area in which they lived, close to an airfield and TV transmitter, had already come under bombardment from Russian forces, and the family feared further attacks.

Mykhailo, a social worder, and Olena, a translator, are now settled into a newly-built apartment on Acresfield which provides over 50 park homes for people in or near retirement.

Acresfield Park is located in the rural Lancashire market town of Garstang

The door to freedom was opened for them by park owners Michael and Julie Ward who run the business with their grown-up children Alex and Sophie.

It was Alex who first learned from a friend of the Ukrainian family’s urgent need to protect their children by moving as far as possible from the conflict.

Alex informed his parents, and the Ward family agreed to make available one of the new apartments earmarked for renting to people wishing to live at Acresfield.

There then began an eight-week wait while visas and other permissions, including a stringent vetting of their property, had to be arranged to allow the Petrochenko family to come to Britain.

Meanwhile, the Wards began furnishing and equipping the apartment from scratch, from beds to bread knives, knowing that the family would be arriving with virtually nothing.

When the formalities were finally complete, the family were finally able to fly to safety – sorry only that they had to leave behind elderly relatives who chose to stay put.

Now the three children – Solomilia (9), Pavlo (6) and Davyd (4) – will be attending schools in Garstang, and a support network for the family has been established by the local council.

The youngsters have also been given membership of Acresfield’s health club where they will provided with swimming lessons.

“We have all been horrified by the atrocities taking place in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, and its impact on innocent families,” said Michael Ward.

“We feel very privileged to be in a position where we can help, and residents here at Acresfield have welcomed the Petrochenkos into their community with open arms.

“Many have draped Ukrainian flags from their homes, and there’s no lack of volunteers willing to do whatever they can to help the family settle in.

“Our staff team have also been fantastic, and we’ve taught many of them how to speak basic Ukrainian so that they can communicate on a day-to-day basis.

“The family’s future is, of course, still uncertain – but they will be welcome to stay here as long as they need, and to enjoy the peace so cruelly denied to their own country,” said Michael.

Michael and his family, who founded their business in 1974, have won the annual “Residential Park Owners of the Year” competition on three separate occasions.