Unless you were living under a rock for the first half of 2022, you can’t help but be aware
of the horrific situation in Ukraine. In February of this year, Russia invaded this beautiful
country under the guise of what it termed a “special military operation”. In doing so, they
caused the largest refugee crisis that Europe had seen in the Second World War. As of
this writing, more than a third of Ukraine’s population have been displaced from their
homes, with almost 6.5 million fleeing the country to seek safe havens across Europe and
While the ongoing war in Ukraine is a travesty and something that should never have been
allowed to happen, it is important to find hope even in the darkest moments. The
generosity of people across the UK towards Ukraine and her people has been remarkable
to watch. Individuals have welcomed refugees into their homes and neighbourhoods have
welcomed them into their communities. In a time of rising living costs, people from all over
the country have dug deep to contribute to various schemes and charities dedicated to
helping those Ukrainians still in their homeland as well as those who have been displaced.
Some have even taken things a step further – collecting essential items and taking them to
the Ukrainian border in person.
George Hnatkiwskyj is a local veterinary surgeon who runs the Badgers Oak Veterinary
Clinic in Northiam, just down the road from my gallery in Rye. George and his family are of
Ukrainian descent themselves and, while the situation may have hit them harder than
most, it didn’t slow them down or lessen their resolve. Since the initial invasion, his sons
and daughter have been collecting aid donations and driving them across Europe to the
Polish Red Cross stationed on the Poland/Ukraine border. That’s such an incredible act
and I remain in awe at their bravery in doing so. I wanted to know what I could do to help
their amazing efforts in my own small way.
While in Poland, George’s sons – Will and Ben – did more than just drop off supplies. They
spent their time finding out what they could do to best support the Ukrainian women and
children gathering at the border. As it turned out, donations of food and clothing were
coming in regularly, but what the women really needed was a way to wash those clothes.
They needed a washing machine. It seems such an obvious thing – a simple convenience
that has become such a part of our day-to-day lives that we take it for granted. I’ll be
honest, I’d never considered a washing machine to be on anyone’s list of essential items,
but I also couldn’t consider living without it. It may just be an appliance, but it’s also a form
of independence and identity. If you have a washing machine, you don’t need to rely on
the further generosity of strangers for something as simple and personal as washing your
clothes and those of your family.
A pop-up sale table event
That really struck a chord with me and I wondered if I could – with help from the
community – raise enough money to buy a washing machine for those brave women on
the border. I’m lucky to live and work in Rye, which is home to a wonderful and giving
community that is always happy to help with a good cause. I knew, once I reached out, I
would have no shortage of offers… and I was right! I asked local stores that I use
personally to gift something small yet fabulous to a pop-up table event. I wanted new items
that we could sell with 100% of proceeds going to George and his family for their
continued efforts. a big thanks to: soap & Salvation, Sailors , puckhaber, mccully & crane,
raelifestyle,hunterjones,thegreenroom,vivienenelectra,herald&heart,ethellovesme, casocialmedia consultancy.ashbees.
From our community to theirs
Our little fundraising event was a great success, raising £400 to help Ukrainian refugees.
Not only that, our community has welcomed 18 Ukrainians who have settled in the East
Sussex area. I have had the privilege of meeting them and they are all lovely people, in
spite of what has transpired to bring them here. I hope that one day their country will be
restored and at peace. Until then, we can do all we can to make their new home a warm
and welcoming one.
About W Gallery
W Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Rye, East Sussex, promoting the artwork of
internationally-acclaimed and collected artists Mackenzie Thorpe and Emma Rodgers.
Between them, their artwork is owned by such collectors as JK Rowling, Keanu Reeves,
Steven Gerrard, Ellen DeGeneres and, of course, HM Queen Elizabeth II.local artists
rob machin, tracy nors. For details
about the gallery and any future fundraising efforts, visit wgalleryeaststreet.com.