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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Lucy Thornton & Adam Aspinall

Lotto millionaire horrified by Ukraine war gives spare rooms to family who fled bombing

A kind-hearted lottery winner is opening her home to a Ukrainian family after watching the horror of Putin ’s war unfold.

Former hairdresser Sue Herdman, 53, who scooped £1.2 million back in 2010, said she wanted her good luck to “make a difference” in the world.

She has offered her spare rooms to a mum, dad and their four year old child, who are currently living in a German refugee camp after their home was bombed.

The homeless family are hoping to soon join Sue and her partner Andrew Hornshaw, 54, at their pig farm in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire.

Sue, who sold her salon in Herefordshire to move to Yorkshire after her win to live with Andrew, told The Mirror: “I just wanted to help. It was seeing those heartbreaking images on the news.

The Ukrainian family who will stay at Sue's home (Glen Minikin)
During the pandemic, she distributed thousands of free potatoes from her farm to her local community (PA)

“The very best thing you can ever buy with money is time, because you have time to help other people.

“I knew they were the family for us after I warned them where we live is quite remote and lived on a farm and the mum replied; ‘I don’t care as long as I’m safe and as long as there’s no bombs overhead’.

“They keep thanking us all the time. I just think it’s what we should do as humans help each other and be kind instead of being horrible.

Railway worker Tatyana, who was about to be qualified as a hairdresser when the war started, her property developer husband Alfred and their four year old son Elean, are desperately waiting for permission to travel to the UK.

Sue Herdman in the child's bedroom with the donations that have been made (Glen Minikin)

“The family don’t know I’m a lottery winner yet, I haven’t said anything. I just didn’t want anyone choosing to live with me because they thought I was a lottery winner,” Sue explained.

Sue was a single mum in Hereford, trying to save up for a mortgage when her numbers came up 12 years ago.

She was told by a clairvoyant at a party weeks earlier she would win and then the mum posted on Facebook; ‘Had enough of all this snow - I am going to win the lottery this Saturday’.

“I’m not sure I believed it,” she laughed.

Sue on the family farm (Glen Minikin)

After the predictions came true Sue moved in with her boyfriend of a year and fell in love with her new lifestyle, tending to his 7,000 animals.

Talking about why she decided to help the Ukrainian family, the mum-of-one explained: “When the war began you couldn’t help but think, is this World War III? I was watching the news in total disbelief.

“All I kept thinking was ‘this could be us’. We’ve all worked hard to get nice homes and nice cars and nice lifestyles and overnight you’re thinking ‘right what can we pack and where are we going to go? Where do we start walking or driving?

“I just thought ‘what can we do to help these people?”

A 'Welcome to England' bag that has been donated for the child (Glen Minikin)

Sue, one of the UK’s most kind-hearted lottery winners, has already raised more than £50,000 for Cancer Research since her win and spends hours every week running ‘Helping the underdogs’ Facebook page, rescuing animals from the kill stations in eastern Europe.

During the pandemic she even stepped in to help her local community by delivering free potatoes as supermarket shelves lay empty.

But weeks ago she set about collecting donations for the Ukrainian refugees, before joining forces with her friend Andrew Lloyd, from her former home in Herefordshire, to send five artic lorries to Ukraine full of aid.

The fuel alone costs £2,500 per journey to Ukraine and so far a JustGiving page has raised £20,000.

The woman in the kitchen that the family will have access to (Glen Minikin)

But generous Sue decided she needed to do even more after watching footage of “bewildered” Ukrainian refugees arriving in Calais to be with their family in the UK only to be told to return to Paris to get their Visas sorted out.

“I posted on Facebook saying’ Why can’t our Government do more? I would happily take a Ukrainian family in,” she said.

“So when the Sponsor for Homes scheme started, I registered my interest as being a sponsor for a family.

“Before long several Facebook sites popped up with people from Ukraine writing about themselves and looking for somewhere to live. That’s how I found my family.

The bedroom offered to the refugees (Glen Minikin)

“It took a whole day to fill the form in, they are not making it easy,” Sue said explaining how difficult the process is.

Her “exhausted” family, who have just moved to their second German refugee camp, also had to travel to Paris to apply for their Visas but had nowhere to stay in the French city so had to return to Germany on the same day.

“They are in despair at the moment because it seems such a difficult process and their home has been bombed,” she said. “I’m trying to keep their spirits up.”

The bathroom in Sue's home (Glen Minikin)

Sue said she has been overwhelmed by the response from her local community who can’t wait to welcome the family.

“My community has been amazing. We’ve been given toys, bedding, a trampoline, and clothes. One little boy even said he wanted to have a play date to help Elean learn English.

“I think the majority of the British public have been incredible because I think British people all feel this. I just wanted to do my bit and make a difference with my luck.”

Tatyana and Alfred Gelaj are both 41 and their son Elian is four years old and they are from Mykolaiv.

They fled their home city after explosions erupted around their home on February 24.

She wants to help a family fleeing the war (Glen Minikin)

“I slept very badly that night at 3.30 am I heard one explosion, then the second and third. The Russians had launched unmanned drones and were blowing up military depots, airports,” Tatyana said.

“We wanted my grandparents, my grandmother who is 98, to come with us but they refused, they didn’t believe that there would be a war.”

The family arrived in Moldova and then flew to Germany leaving their car at the airport where they were taken to a camp behind barbed wire.

“We thought it was a prison at first but thank God everything worked out,” she said.

Sue with some of her pigs (Glen Minikin)

“We accidentally found a page on Facebook and decided to write an advert.

Many people responded to our message, including Susan.

“But my soul preferred Susan, she supported me very much every day.

“Although it was hard for us to leave Ukraine and start all over again at the age of 41, we’ve had nothing but warm wishes and a warm shelter from the British, we will start a new life.”

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