A community in west Dorset came together to hold a moving vigil for the people of Ukraine.

The vigil, held on Saturday, February 24 at 12.30pm, marked two years since the invasion of country by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

An audience of British and Ukrainian people sat together in the Chapel in the Garden on East Street as the vigil started with a prelude of Come into the Church performed by the Kiev chamber choir, written by Nikolay Diletsky.

This was followed by welcome words from Reverend Elizabeth Harley before a traditional Ukrainian song was played. A period of silent prayer followed this.

Olya Patiuta, the first Ukrainian refugee who had arrived in Bridport following the invasion, then gave a powerful reflection on the situation.

The whole church then gathered at the front to light candles and have a moment's silence for those they have lost.

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People were then asked to share their thoughts as one Ukrainian refugee said: “I’m grateful that the UK has become our second motherland.”

Another added: “Our gratefulness for your open hearts and houses is eternal.”

The Lord’s Prayer was then read out by Olya and the reverend in both Ukrainian and English before more music from the Kiev Chamber Choir was played.

Next Gabriella, a Russian translator who has assisted refugees and Bridport Town Council in the past two years, read out an exert from Neil Gaiman’s poem, What You Need To Be Warm, which is about the status of a refugee.

Speaking after the vigil, Olya shared her thoughts on the support from the local community.

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She said: “It’s just been immense. It’s still quite hard to put into words. The mental support particularly from the elderly generation who have the spirit of the Blitz. Their biggest piece of advice was to take each day as it comes- day by day."

Olya fled the country with her two children when the invasion started. Her children were also present at the vigil, with her daughter wearing a traditional Ukrainian dress.

“The only reason I am here is for them,” she said.

Olya reflected on her thoughts for the future, and that from her point of view, there were 'no false expectations' at the start of the war, as she says Ukrainians from her part of the country in the east expected invasion since the 2013 revolution.

“My biggest hope for the next year is that we, as a country, are able to harvest our grain again - it’s crucial to our country and the rest of Europe,” she said.

Rev Harley said: “I was incredibly moved by the strong emotions of the community and their willingness to be here today. It was impressive to see the people of Bridport come in and sit with us.

“A special thanks goes to Olya for helping prepare everything for today.

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“The candles speak for themselves, representing our prayers and grief to the people of Ukraine."

Next to the candles was a book filled with prayer messages from the last two years for the people of Ukraine that was placed next to the candles for the Ukrainian community.

The Chapel in the Garden has been supporting the Ukrainian community in West Dorset since the invasion and holds 15 minutes of silence and peace on the first Saturday of each month by the garden gates at midday.

The next 15 minutes of silence will take place on Saturday, March 2 at 12pm.  

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A Ukrainian flag was also flying high by the clock tower in Bucky Doo Square to highlight the anniversary.