Family who left Ukraine 'with nothing' 'delighted' by stately home offer

·2-min read
The Honcharova family at Dunnington. Left to right: Yesania, Dmitri, Kateryna, Olena, Hordii and Andrii
The Honcharova family at Dunnington. Left to right: Yesania, Dmitri, Kateryna, Olena, Hordii and Andrii

A FAMILY of Ukrainian refugees who were charged £27 for entry to the grounds of Castle Howard despite having recently fled their home with nothing have been invited back for a complementary tour of both the grounds and garden.

And the stately home has said that in future all Ukrainian refugees will be welcome free of charge.

Pam Cockerill, who is hosting the Honcharova family in her farmhouse in Dunnington, took mum Olena and her two youngest children, twins Kateryna and Dmitri, for a day trip to see the Castle Howard grounds.

But Pam said that, despite Olena showing her Ukrainian passport, the family were charged for entry - even the twins.

York Press: Olena Honcharova with her two youngest, twins Kateryna and Dmitri, in the play area at Dunnington
York Press: Olena Honcharova with her two youngest, twins Kateryna and Dmitri, in the play area at Dunnington

"We were charged a total of £27 for entry - only to the grounds, not the house!" she said.

"While I fully expected to pay my own entrance fee, and possibly Olena’s, we were both disappointed that the entrance fee was not waived for two three-year-old refugees."

Pam added that the Honcharovas had no money, having only recently arrived in the UK as refugees, and Olena had been embarrassed at having to ask their host to pay.

But Castle Howard has now contacted the Honcharovas, and has invited the whole family on a free visit.

A spokesperson said that on the day of the Honcharovas visit the stately home had been busy with its Festival of Dogs weekend and was also training up junior staff members, but would 'like to invite the family back for a complimentary visit to Castle Howard with access to a tour of the house'.

York Press: Pam with Kateryna at Castle Howard
York Press: Pam with Kateryna at Castle Howard

The spokesperson added that in future all Ukrainian refugees would be 'welcome to enter the house and grounds free of charge when visiting with their host families' on proof of ID.

Pam said the Honcharovas were 'delighted' and would look forward to visiting the house soon.

"It is a wonderful response," she said. "They will definitely want to go back! They had a lovely time."

Pam and her husband Martin got in touch with the Honcharovas on Facebook under the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme, and offered to allow the entire family - husband Andrii, wife Olena, and children Hordii, 10, Yesania, 9, and twins Kateryna and Dmitri, both three, to stay. Men are allowed to leave Ukraine if they have more than three children.

Pam said her own children had grown up. "So we were rattling around."

The Honcharovas, who are originally from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, fled to Moldova when the Russians invaded.

Andrii and the two older children, Hordii and Yesania, had joined Martin for a walk on the day Pam took Olena, Kateryna and Dmitri to Castle Howard.

Pam said Hordii and Yesania had already started school, and the whole family was learning English.

Andrii, an engineer by trade, and music teacher Olena were also keen to find work, she said.

Olena said it was 'very nice' of Castle Howard to invite them back. "We will go!" she said.

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