Hundreds pack out town centre to show solidarity for Ukraine
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich was awash with blue and yellow in a show of "overwhelming" solidarity for Ukraine and its people at a vigil on the Cornhill.
Some people who live in the town but are from Ukraine were among the more than 600-strong crowd.
Vicky Butler grew up in Volyn in western Ukraine and attended the event with her two daughters.
She first came to the UK as a student in her 20s before returning and meeting her husband, who is from Newcastle. She still has family in the eastern European country.
Mrs Butler said: "I'm really very appreciative of the support. I stand here with my daughters and we would prefer this should not have happened.
"My family want to leave but they are looking after my granny, who is of a generation that wants to stay where they have grown up – where they have relatives.
"On February 24, I woke up as normal, only a couple of days before I had been talking to relatives and family and then I was getting text, two words all in capitals: IT'S WAR, IT'S REAL."
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Julia Guminilovuch was born in western Ukraine near Lviv.
"It is horrible, what else can be said? I cannot believe it. Nobody can believe it," she said.
Yulyia Hembry described how her younger sister and two children are living in occupied Kherson, which was taken over by Russian forces a week ago.
"She told me how they had some food and now the food is going to run out in a couple of days. There are no deliveries," Ms Hembry said.
The Ipswich resident said people living in Kherson were being offered food by Russian forces, but were refusing.
She said: "We are here safe and you see the images of the war on social media and on the news. I cannot believe this is happening in 2022.
"It's incredible that the British people, many who are likely not to have any relatives, are coming to support us. It is overwhelming."
Members of the public wore blue and yellow clothing, made necklaces out of Christmas decorations, pinned ribbons, or carried flowers and candles to show their support.
Ipswich Town Hall has already been lit up in blue and yellow – the colours of the Ukrainian flag – in support.
Tom Mumford, vicar of St Mary-Le-Tower Church, said: "The reason why we are gathering here this evening is to show solidarity for the people of Ukraine following the great acts of evil and war happening in their country.
"We are also here to demonstrate that love, light and hope can and will always win."
The mayor of Ipswich Cllr Elizabeth Hughes, archdeacon Rhiannon King and Simon Barrington, former chief executive of International Relief Charity, Samaritan’s Purse UK, also gave speeches.
Cllr Hughes said: "Most of us belong to a generation that has been lucky enough to have never experienced war and all that war can destroy.
"An attack on our homes and our workplaces and on our town, the destruction of defensive works, the dislocation of lives. Large scale movement of people, the maiming and killing of people we know and who we love.
"Just 1,200 miles away the people of Ukraine are experiencing the full horror of modern warfare. Bombing, shelling, shooting and tank attacks.
"Train stations full of people are frantically evacuating from their homes or sheltering at night in concourses and in tunnels. Bridges are wired to be blown up, food and water is running short and services from hospitals to schools are completely disrupted or closed.
"Just like other ordinary people around the world I was personally horrified and disgusted to see Russia attack Ukraine, it is a return to a very dark time.
In Europe, we have returned to days that we believed we would never see again. To use an army to invade another country offering no threat, to cause the loss of life or destruction to the means to live in the place subject to such an assault is an obscenity.
"War is something that should be abolished in the world, from our world forever. It's easy to believe that humans really hasn't progressed."
She called on the town to stand together with the people of Ukraine and against pointless war, and to say to the people of Ukraine "we are with you".
The Archdeacon urged people to "speak truth to power" and "work for peace".
She said: "We want to say very firmly: we are with you, that you matter to us and we will not forget you.
"We want to say that what is happening to you is wrong, it is evil, it should never have started. We name it and we condemn it. We will not stand by and say nothing."
A silence was held as the crowd held up lights and torches before the country's national anthem was played.