Trip to London for Ukrainian Families

Sunday 23 October


Kindness and cooperation combined to make for a memorable day trip to London for 57 Ukrainian guests living in and around Rutland. In August, The Rutland Times ran an article headlined “Green Fingered Ian”. By selling his plants, disabled Ian Chalmers of Barrowden, supported by his sister and her husband, donated £1250 to the Uppingham Rotary Club to support Ukrainian families now living in Rutland. That was the marvellous kindness.

A conversation with our Lord Lieutenant, Dr Sarah Furness, gave this year’s Club President, Colin Gordon, an idea. However, it would be too costly for the Uppingham Rotary Club alone, while still providing much needed support for local charities. He called his fellow Club President, Tad Szymborski of the Oakham based Rutland Rotary Club and asked for help, which was immediately forthcoming. That was the cooperation, which led to a smart Bland’s coach arriving in Oakham, Uppingham and Hallaton to pick up passengers on the morning of Sunday 23 October.

Heavy rain gave way to sunshine as the families approached London. The first stop was lunch at the Ukrainian Social Club on Holland Park Avenue. Mr Vlodko Pawluk, Director of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain had been hugely helpful setting up the visit and gave everyone a very warm welcome. The menu on offer included home favourites of borscht, holubtsi and varemiki. Fine weather then continued as Nic Shields, Bland’s expert coach driver turned into a tourist guide pointing out the sights of Marble Arch, Park Lane, Hyde Park Corner and all of Westminster.

Still enjoying fine weather, the families waited for Thames Clippers for Greenwich with Colin Gordon doing his best to confirm that yes, one of the large buildings opposite Millbank Pier had been Mr J. Bond’s office. There was time for quick look around the Cutty Sark and the Old Naval College before getting back on the bus just as the heavens opened again. Nic had to contend with thunder, lightning and heavy rain on the drive back to Rutland but all was quiet on his bus as the families passed around a notebook, writing messages of thanks to Ian.

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