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Karen Bradley MP Column 23.01.23

On Friday last week, I organised a Tea Party at Alton Towers for Ukrainian refugees and their host families living in North Staffordshire. I was delighted with our turnout of over 200 guests who came to enjoy the delicious cakes and sandwiches provided by the Alton Towers Resort team. It was lovely to havefellow North Staffordshire MPs Aaron Bell, Jack Brereton, Jo Gideon and Jonathan Gullis join me in hosting the event, as well as Deputy Lieutenant Prakash Samani who introduced the event and shared his experiences as a refugee who came to Leek 50 years ago.

It was a special honour to have with us Olga Stefanishyna, a Ukrainian MP and the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. Olga shared her own family’s experiences of the war, having tragically lost her husband last year when he was killed on a humanitarian mission in Ukraine. Her children are currently based in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Olga’s speech was moving, insightful and it underlined how important it is that the UK continues to stand with and send military support to Ukraine, as well as other European countries doing so too. It was great to accompany Olga around the room as she met our Ukrainian guests, witnessing the grief felt in such tough times but with many cheerful faces enjoying the chance to come together.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors we were able to host a fantastic event with great food, facilities and company. It was lovely to see so many local Ukrainian families coming together in a relaxed format and making new friends. We finished the event by having all the children come up to the stage to collect their own Alton Towers Teddy Bears, which were so popular we almost ran out!

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