ST MARY’S Church in Chiddingfold lit up its church tower in the blue and gold colours of the Ukrainian flag last weekend in solidarity with the village’s long-standing ties with the war-torn nation.
And to further celebrate the village’s friendship with Ukraine, Rev Rachel Greene wrote: “In 1949, many of the disabled Ukrainian workers in Britain, who had been invited here after the Second World War, were threatened with repatriation to Russia.
“To prevent this from happening, Ukrainians in Britain contributed to the purchase and maintenance of a house where they could live without fear of deportation. With the money they raised, they bought Sydenhurst Home on Mill Lane in Chiddingfold.
“For more than 60 years, Sydenhurst was their home. In that time many friendships were formed. Ukrainian children in London started coming to Sydenhurst for Scout camps, strengthening Ukrainian ties to Chiddingfold.
“As the residents of Syndenhurst grew older and died many of them were buried in St Mary’s Church yard, where there is a special Ukrainian section.
“Only a fortnight ago, Ukrainian Scout leaders from London visited Chiddingfold to look at all the graves and their inscriptions, with the hope of bringing their young scouts to the village to help tend the graves and to study the special ecology of the churchyard which provides habitat for rare wood white butterflies.
“The people of Chiddingfold haven’t forgotten those friendships. At St Mary’s Church, we’ve put on display a book of pictures and icons gifted to a member of St Mary’s Church by a Ukrainian friend from Sydenhurst. St Mary’s is open every day so you can go and see it.”
People from the three churches in the village, from Chiddingfold Good Neighbours, the parish council and from other village organisations have also joined together to launch a ‘Chiddingfold Cares’ group to raise funds for the British Red Cross special Ukraine appeal.
Rev Greene added: “We’re doing this so that we can show the people of Ukraine that they are not alone in their time of need. And to show them they still have friends who care – right here in Chiddingfold.
“So we’re calling our joined efforts ‘Chiddingfold Cares’ and we’d love as much help as possible. Let us know what ideas you have for raising funds, because together we can make a world of difference, and show ourselves to be true friends.”