A compassionate elderly couple prepares their home for a young Ukrainian refugee family


A woman who will turn 80 next month and her disabled husband prepare their home for the arrival of a young family of Ukrainian refugees.

Tula Gray, 79, who lives with her husband Douglas Gray, 83, in North Ormsby, said she made the decision to support the family to give her ‘purpose’ – and now has new life. as she prepares for their arrival. A friend from his native Poland asked him to help the Pinczuk family – Ghenna, 48, Oxana, 35, and their two children Oleg, 5, and Anastasia, 2, after they fled war-torn Ukraine. war. and crossed several countries in their car before reaching Poland.

Tula told Grimsby Live: “I am Polish by birth although I have lived in this country for almost 50 years. Someone from Poland that I know called me a few weeks ago to say that there is a family from ukraine who traveled for seven days with two small children and they would like to come to england.

Read more: How many refugees have settled in North Lincolnshire thanks to help offered to Ukrainians

“The father has a good job, he has a heavy truck license to drive big trucks all over Europe, so he more or less knew that in England they could settle down safely and away from all this trouble. But they didn’t know anyone who could The woman is so traumatized she couldn’t speak. [The family] had spent nearly 12 days in the car.”

Tula said the family traveled from Ukraine to Moldova and through Romania and Hungary before settling with her friend in Poland while they waited for their UK visas to arrive – but first they had to wait in a queue almost 25 miles long at the Polish border.

The family pictured today as they wait in Poland for their UK visas

She continued: “When they arrived in Poland, their car broke down and they were stuck in the car. The woman almost had a nervous breakdown. She couldn’t speak – she was shaking so much she couldn’t to speak.

“They were pushing west towards the German border and on the way they contacted some Ukrainian friends who lived in Poland and they gave them the phone number of another friend who might be able to help them etc. J I was therefore at the end of the long queue, they were advised to stay in Poland while waiting for a visa, as they only have £300 on them and they need it for petrol.

“They stopped at a 75-year-old lady in western Poland, Natalie, and she has a one-bedroom apartment. Eventually she found another neighbour, a retired widow who offered to live there. ‘help.’ And they sit there and wait for their UK visa.

“Natalie called me and said, ‘Tula, we have this problem, a family with two children, I know you like children, can you help me?’, and I said, ‘Listen , I’m 80 with a disabled husband, but I have a big heart and a house for temporary accommodation, so send them”.

Tula said the prospect of welcoming the refugee family into her home gave her a "new goal"
Tula said the prospect of welcoming the refugee family into her home gave her a ‘new purpose’

Tula said Oxana was unable to speak due to trauma from the war, and little Anastasia is currently unwell with a high temperature.

She continued: “[Anastasia] got sick, very very sick, she was breathing extremely fast and it was over 40 degrees centigrade. The mother was very worried but they found a doctor in Poland and examined her and told her that it would probably be her back teeth that cut her. She was in terrible pain and crying all the time. She is a little better than yesterday but still has a temperature.

“We sent the visas and this Thursday it will be two weeks since we sent them. I hope they come today or maybe tomorrow. Everyone comes and helps me, brings gifts and m help with bedding I didn’t realize how many good people there are.

“When I was alone with my disabled husband locked in this cottage during lockdown I thought there was no one around. It is absolutely stunning and I would advise anyone who feels forgotten or sorry for them- themselves, to sponsor a Ukrainian family.

“I have new energy and purpose for life and it’s a phenomenal feeling that you’re still wanted and needed. When I’ve been sent photos of the kids I already feel like they call grandma.”

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