DOZENS of Winchester residents came out in support of Ukraine at a vigil held at the city centre.

The candle-lit event in Abbey Gardens on Saturday, February 24 marked two years since the invasion of Ukraine.

Organised by the Winchester Ukraine Cultural Association, the vigil took place following a commemorative concert at The Arc on Jewry Street, and saw speeches given by members of the association.

READ MORE: Cultural events and candlelit vigil to mark second anniversary of Ukraine war

Hampshire Chronicle: Dozens of people attended the vigilDozens of people attended the vigil (Image: Chris Atkinson)

This was followed by a sermon and poetry readings, before the attendees were invited to sing the Ukrainian national anthem.

Yuliia Dubouyk, chair of Winchester Ukraine Cultural Association, said: “It was so amazing. So many people came to the performance at the Arc, the venue was full. We’ve cried a lot today, and at the vigil we felt a lot of release and grace, and we’re really grateful. To be here, at the centre of Winchester, which has such a great history, and crying for those who can’t be here, it is amazing.

“All this support, all these people, all these hugs, means the world to us.”

Vice-chair Olkou Roniv added: “The turn-out has been really nice. I’m already living separately from my host family, but they came to support us, and my husband came for the whole day which is really important.

“A lot of hosting families have been really supportive. They are not just hosts, they are families for us too. When our children went to school and when we started jobs, we saw lots of support, and we’re so grateful to the government for giving us a chance to bring our children here and to keep them safe.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Revd. Canon Dr Roland Riem speaking at the vigilRevd. Canon Dr Roland Riem speaking at the vigil (Image: Chris Atkinson)

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The Rev Canon Dr Roland Riem gave a short sermon at the vigil, where he spoke about his family history to Ukraine. He said: “It is a great privilege to come out and speak among people who show so much courage and resilience, to see that they haven’t given up hope and contribute to the sense that others are with them and caring about them.”

Cllr John Tippet-Cooper also spoke at the vigil. He told the Chronicle: “It was another very moving but very powerful event tonight. I think the important thing is that, of the three vigils we have held for Ukraine, this is the first one that has been led by the Ukrainian community itself.

“The Winchester Ukrainian Cultural Association has done amazing work the last few months to showcase everything that is great about Ukrainian culture and also bring out people – there are 500 Ukrainian people in the district – and we’ve seen new people step forward and perform and get involved.”