More than 150 Ukrainians and their hosts celebrated the Orthodox Christmas in Congleton Town Hall on Saturday 7 January. The event was sponsored by Congleton Town Council and hosted by the Congleton Area Ukrainian Support Network (CAUSN) on the day that Ukrainians would traditionally celebrate Christmas.
The celebrations started with a traditional service at St Peter’s Church conducted half in Ukrainian and half in English, with some traditional Ukrainian songs and music. Following the service the guests made their way to the Town Hall for a Ukrainian-style Christmas celebration. Vic Brown, from CAUSN said: “The party was organised in conjunction with some of the Ukrainian mums in order to give our Ukrainian guests the chance to unite together at Christmas time. Special thanks to Nadiia Holovchuk who was instrumental in pulling the day together. It was fantastic to see almost 110 adults and 40 children, some of whom were joined by their hosts, enjoy a wonderful party. The event included Ukrainian entertainment, carols, music, games and lots of conversation. Our younger guests enjoyed the face painting, crafts, magic show and a present which they might not have otherwise received.”
He continued: “I would like to thank Congleton Town Council for their £1000 sponsorship and for making the Town Hall look so magnificent with the yellow and blue uplighters and party lights and Mark’s Events, the commercial partner at the Town Hall for working with the Ukrainian mums on suitable and traditional food and creating an amazing hot buffet. Also to the team at St Peter’s Church for creating a wonderful and authentic service.”
One of the highlights of the evening was a surprise magic show from Nick Barnes and other entertainers from the Dragoon’s Magic Club. The top-flight entertainers, some of whom have worked in Las Vegas, included Chris O, Chris Stokes, Paul Pickford, Phil Brownsword and balloon modeller Snaggers”. The magicians wowed the tables with their tricks transcending any language barrier!
Congleton’s Town Mayor, Cllr Margaret Gartside welcomed the families and guests to the party. Cllr Gartside said: “Christmas is especially a time for children, it was heart-warming to see the joy on their little faces. Vic, Nadiia and their band of volunteers did a fantastic job arranging the celebration. It was poignant to see the flag of Ukraine flying from the town hall. Thank you to all the Congleton residents who have opened their homes to welcome in Ukrainian families, many separated from their own families. On behalf of the town, I would like to let our Ukrainian guests know we will continue to offer our support and solidarity.”
Mark Bailey, from Mark’s Events added: “It was a privilege to be part of what was an emotional but a very special day. Ukrainian guests were full of praise for the amazing meeting and celebration and the brilliant activities from the very moving church service to the wonderful buffet.”
The aim of CAUSN is to support guests and sponsors, in the Congleton area, involved in the UK Government’s “Homes for Ukraine” visa scheme. Congleton Town Council continues to take an active role in the CAUSN.
The town council is organising a ‘Hosts’ evening at the Town Hall on Friday 27 January, from 6.30pm-8.30pm. The meeting is for anyone who is currently hosting or anyone considering becoming one. Cllr Gartside said: “The event is intended for hosts rather than Ukrainian guests and is for adults. It will be an ideal opportunity to get an update on how the scheme is going in the Congleton area, share experiences with other hosts, put your questions to an expert panel and pick up lots of valuable information and practical advice.”
The event is free to attend but places must be booked in advance on Eventbrite. Follow the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/464194818197
For further information on CAUSN visit: www.causn.com