Glasgow teddy bear named after boy killed in Ukraine laid in square where he lost his life

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'Scotland has given their heart': How a charity competition led to gesture of unity
'Scotland has given their heart': How a charity competition led to gesture of unity

A Glasgow teddy bear that was named after a boy killed in Ukraine was sent across to the war-torn country and laid in the square where the eight-year-old lost his life.

Charity Scot Baby Box Appeal - based at The Forge in Parkhead - was praised for showing its “solidarity and support”.

Jackie Crawford, 58, from Airdrie, founded the charity after witnessing “babies being born in subways and laying in towels on the floor”.

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She told the Glasgow Times: “I posted on a local page asking if anyone had any baby boxes that I could have and I woke up to hundreds of messages from all over Scotland.”

As well as organising baby boxes to send, a ‘name the bear’ competition was held to raise funds for the Ukrainian cause. The teddy - dressed in Ukrainian blue and yellow - was also decked out with a tartan scarf and hat.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Jackie said: “We have been sending aid to Vinnytsia since the middle of March.

“One of our volunteers told us about her city in Ukraine. [She had said] it was the same population size of Glasgow before the war, but many fled to Vinnytsia as it was a relatively safe city.

“The size of the town doubled, and they hadn’t been receiving official aid and were desperate for baby supplies like nappies and formula.

“We had been dealing with a children’s charity in Vinnytsia, so we had strong connections with the city about the bombings.”

It was through those connections that they learned about the death of eight-year-old Kyrylo Pyakhin.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Jackie added: “The wee boy’s death was particularly upsetting as he had fled to Vinnytsia from Kherson to find safety.

“They couldn’t find him for 24 hours after the bombing, and when they did, they needed DNA records to identify him.”

Following the boy’s death, the charity received a request to name the teddy after him as bears were said to be his favourite toy.

Jackie said: “We asked the security guard - who had won the competition - and he was happy to do this.”

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Once the baby box appeal team sent 'Cyril the bear' (the English spelling of Kyrylo) over to Vinnytsia, it was laid on the site where Kyrylo and a number of other children and adults were killed.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Jackie said: “We had no idea the bear was going to be placed in the square.

“It was an idea from the Ukrainian side that this could be a symbol - not just for the children - but to remind those in Vinnytsia that people do care about them and still support them.

"It’s kind of bittersweet. I think by the bear being placed at the scene of such heartbreak will show the Ukrainians that people in other countries still care about their suffering."

Serhiy Borzov, governor of the Vinnytsia region, praised the charity for its kindness.

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He said the war with Russia has “changed their childhood” but would not change their “faith in Ukraine - in Ukrainians”.

Borzov added: “Thank you Scotland for solidarity and support!”

Jackie stated that the Ukrainians are “especially grateful” to the Scots standing behind them.

She added: “We have been told that the baby boxes mean so much more than other aid as they are completed with so much thought and care by Scottish mums and volunteers.

“One doctor in a maternity ward had said ‘while the whole world has helped Ukraine, Scotland has given their heart’.”