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Chronicle Live
Nicole Goodwin

Ukrainian refugee children donate gifts so Ukraine can be 'merry and happy like Britain' on Christmas Day

"People in Ukraine now can be merry and happy for Christmas again like in Britain."

Those are the words of a 10-year-old Ukrainian refugee whose school has been collecting Christmas gifts to be sent to Ukraine in time for Christmas. Mykyta Chepel, 10, and Anton Kulish, 12, arrived in the North East in March after fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Both boys were unable to speak English when they arrived but have settled in well at their new school, Wellfield Middle School, in Whitley Bay. And in support of their new classmates, pupils at the school have been collecting gifts for Ukraine, which will arrive in the capital Kyiv in time for Christmas Day.

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Mykyta, from Zaporizhzhia, said: "My school and my friends helped donate things for Ukrainian people for people which need help now. I think it's very good because people in Ukraine now can be merry and happy for Christmas again like in Britain."

Anton, from Kyiv, added: "We're donating a lot of food for children and other food for small, small baby... It's a very good job because people for Christmas in Ukraine now again celebrate Christmas."

Mykyta and Anton had the proud moment of delivering the gifts donated by their school to Deal Direct Blinds in Gateshead last week, where they will be loaded onto a truck and driven to Ukraine by business owner Ed Blackbird in time for Christmas Day.

They were joined by Wellfield Middle School Head Teacher Susan Winter and Learning Coach Andrea Holecyova, who helped the boys unload food, clothes and toys from their school bus into the Deal Direct Blinds warehouse where hundreds of gifts, as well as heaters and generators, are currently being sorted.

Ed and his team, Tom Sykes, Steve Laws and Dave Laws will leave North Shields on December 21 with a truck load of gifts and catch a ferry to Amsterdam. On the 22nd they drive through the Netherlands and Germany to the Polish border, before travelling through Poland to the Ukraine border on the 23rd.

On Christmas Eve they will head into Kyiv and on Christmas Day they will meet up with Paul Hodgson, a teacher from Washington, who is part of the charity Together they will unload the Christmas presents and give them to local infants, children, teenagers and adults.

The generators and heaters will be donated to weUKrainians to support people of Ukraine who are left without energy.

Ed said: "We've been inundated with medicine, food, clothes, toys, games. You name it, we have literally everything in this warehouse that people have been kind enough to donate.

"It's always lovely to see kids come in but it was even more special that we were visited by two wonderful children from Ukraine and it was lovely to see the smile on their faces."

Ukrainian children Mykyta Chepel, 10, and Anton Kulish, 12, with Head Teacher Susan Winter, left and Learning Coach Andrea Holecyova, right from Wellfield Middle School in Whitley Bay donating Christmas gifts to Ed Blackbird, 2nd from left and Tom Sykes, 2nd from right at Direct Blinds in Gateshead, before they take them to Kyiv in Ukraine in time for Christmas Day (Craig Connor/ChronicleLive)

This is the second time that Ed will make the journey over to Ukraine after donating clothes, medicine, food and other essentials earlier this year. And this time he has been hosting a number of fundraisers via his Facebook page in order raise as much money as possible to buy heaters and generators.

Some of the fundraisers so far have included a huge raffle. There was also a silent auction with the opportunity for people to bid for corporate tickets to watch NUFC from Amanda Staveley, and a two-night stay in the luxury treehouse at Ramside Hotel, as well as many more.

More information and updates can be found via the Deal Direct Blinds Facebook page. People wishing to donate can also do so via Ed's JustGiving page here.

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