Peppa Pig – with the help of a group of UK volunteers – has paid a flying visit to Ukraine to cheer up youngsters in underground bunkers. The team set off to various areas in Ukraine, including Irpin and Bucha, in December to provide children with gifts including crayons, cuddly toys and clothes in time for Saint Nicholas Day, which falls on December 19 and is celebrated in eastern Christian countries.
And Peppa – alias Angie Sutcliffe, from Tottington in Manchester, donned the costume of the popular children’s character to play with youngsters in a bunker underneath a school close to Kyiv and hand out the presents.
Wendy Warrington, a nurse, midwife and humanitarian aid worker, who organises the visits to Ukraine, said sirens had been audible outside during their visit.
She added that, as a grandmother, seeing the children’s eyes “light up” when they received the gifts was a “worthwhile” experience.
Ms Warrington, 55, from Bury, explained: “Christmas is the most important time for most children and seeing children not have to worry about what is going on in Ukraine for a little while and just being allowed to be children for that short period of time and play and engage with other children makes everything feel so worthwhile.
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“For those children, playing in an underground bunker becomes a norm, but it’s not normal.
“The reason why I volunteered was because of my grandchildren – I would want someone out there to help them if they were in that situation.”
Another of the places they visited was Saltivka, on the edge of the recently liberated city of Kharkiv, which suffered heavy missile attacks and where children are still living with their families, as well as an underground metro station.
Ms Warrington continued: “My friend Jakub Sochujko, who is a Polish volunteer from Cornwall but is based in Kharkiv, dressed up in a dragon outfit and was entertaining the kids.
“The children absolutely loved it. We want to be able to spread a little Christmas cheer – it is not going to change the world, but for an hour or two it is going to give the kids a bit of reprieve and a sense of normality.”
On December 25, the group have plans to organise a Christmas party for around 300 children in Kharkiv to spread more “Christmas cheer”.
”The children absolutely loved it.
“We want to be able to spread a little Christmas cheer – it is not going to change the world, but for an hour or two it is going to give the kids a bit of reprieve and a sense of normality.
On December 25, the group have plans to organise a Christmas party for about 300 children in Kharkiv.