On Thursday, 24 August, more than 180 Ukrainian guests, hosts, family members and friends attended an event marking Ukraine's 32nd Independence Day in Cranbrook.
Attendees sung Ukraine's national anthem and enjoyed Ukrainian food, live music, and craft workshops. Many guests wore traditional Ukrainian attire, competing to win the best national embroidered dress contest.
The night was a celebration of Ukrainian culture and the people's strength, but after 18 months of conflict, the minute of silence and speeches underlined that this was also a sombre occasion.
At the end of the event, attendees joined hands in a 'unity chain' in a procession from the venue, outside and along the street. This was inspired by other human chains in Ukraine, such as one in 1990, estimated to have been made up of 300,000 people and stretching 300 miles long, from Kyiv to Lviv. That demonstration showed the unity of Ukrainian people as the Soviet Union's rule collapsed.
Councillor Sam Hawkins, East Devon District Council's (EDDC) Vice Chair, delivered the following speech on the night:
"On behalf of East Devon District Council, I would like to firstly acknowledge the very hard work of our Homes for Ukraine team who have supported you over the last 18 months.
I would also like to congratulate Olha and Ihor Andriienko from the team who have organised this evening’s event and have done a tremendous job.
As a council we recognise the challenging times you have all been through and the suffering you have had to experience. We hope in a small way this evening we helped celebrate your amazing culture, country and resilience at this time.Thank you all for joining us tonight and as always, we stand for freedom, and we stand together with Ukraine."
EDDC's Homes for Ukraine team provide a range of follow-up support once guests and hosts are matched, as well as organising and promoting events such as this, helping guests connect with their community.
To find out more information about how you can help Ukrainian guests or to express your interest in being a host please visit www.eastdevon.gov.uk/ukraine-support.