A UKRAINIAN jazz accordionist who was separated from his family for nearly a year, played his first concert in Winchester to raise money for his ‘war-torn country’.

Volodymyr Vasylenko, 39, convinced the Ukrainian authorities to allow him to move in with his wife and six-year-old son after 10 months apart, on the basis that he would be fundraising to support his country.

On Saturday, February 11 the jazz accordionist did just that with a concert at the Salvation Army Hall in Parchment Street. The event attracted around 120 people, helping to raise more than £1,000 for International Medical Corps UK.

Hampshire Chronicle:

The father, who is just one of five people in Ukraine who plays jazz on the electric accordion, said: “I felt a deep understanding and positive emotional response to my music from the audience. There was a huge responsibility on my shoulders because it was not just a demonstration of my creative work but an introduction to the British public of Ukrainian music, which I played in aid of my war-torn country.”

READ MORE: Ukrainian refugees: More funding approved by Winchester civic chiefs

Volodymyr and his wife Anna and son Myron moved out of their home in Parchment Street with host Stella Thurston two weeks ago to settle into their own rented accommodation above a restaurant in Winchester High Street.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Uzbekistan host Stella, 55, said: “I took an active interest in not just housing them but in their lives too. Volodymyr and his family are at the forefront for me and I’m going to support them to be as successful as possible.

“We wanted to help attract attention to the difficulties of Ukrainian people and showcase his talent. It was Volodymyr’s first concert since leaving Ukraine. It was emotional but he managed. He needs to be seen as strong for his family but there was so much pain and so much heart ache.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

Stella has been helping refugees settle down in the area by supporting them in applying for jobs, bank accounts and schools since the war started.

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The host continued: “My response to take care of this young family from Ukraine was completely natural and I have not looked back since taking them in.

 “Any war is bad. I can’t see any justification whatsoever of what Putin’s Russia is doing to Ukraine. I am connected emotionally, culturally. I see every Ukrainian person who has come to Winchester as an extension of my family.”

The event was attended by locals, fellow hosting families and 20 Ukrainian refugees. Stella hopes to host more concerts in the future, including a fundraiser alongside Winchester Rotary at St Lawrence church featuring other Ukrainian performers.