Kate comforts weeping mother at centre for families fleeing Ukraine war

The Princess of Wales comforted a weeping Ukrainian mother and said “I wish we could do more” as she met families who have fled the war.

Kate toured the Reading Ukrainian Community Centre and paid tribute to the “bravery” of the displaced families as they described their experiences and the support they have received from the Berkshire organisation.

Galina Bolebrukh, 39, who arrived in the UK with her mother Iryne and three-year-old son Renat, wept as she told the princess how she fled Ukraine with her family and a few clothes.

Kate placed her hand and on her own heart and said “I wish we could do more” and later told the mother, whose husband remained in Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion: “Everything you’ve experienced is so understandable.”

The centre has been the hub of the Ukrainian community in Berkshire for years but has now focused much of its efforts in supporting Ukrainians arriving in the UK, and delivering medical equipment and humanitarian aid to those on the front line.

The princess posed for a picture with Mrs Bolebrukh’s son on her lap and did the same with another little girl.

Royal visit to Reading
Kate with five-year-old Zlata Yeromenko (Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA)

The princess’s Royal Foundation has held a virtual meeting with the office of Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska after the two women met last month.

The online event took place last week to provide advice and share best practice to help support the First Lady’s mental health strategy, announced in August, to address the impact the conflict is having on the wellbeing of Ukrainians.

When Kate arrived she was greeted by a group of officials led by the centre’s chairman Antonio Gresko, and after receiving the traditional Ukrainian welcome gifts of bread and salt, she told the group “having a charity centre like this is a lifeline”.

The future Queen chatted to groups of Ukrainian families sitting at tables in the centre, home to the Berkshire branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, the country’s largest representative body for Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent.

She sympathised with a group of women, telling them: “It’s still all going on and you have loved ones and family in Ukraine, they still see the horrors of war every day.”

Royal visit to Reading
Kate learned about the support the centre is providing (Paul Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Kate said she was impressed by their “bravery”, adding: “You’re showing a resilience, I’m overwhelmed by how strong you all are.”

In a lighter moment Kate joined children taking part in an art session. The monthly workshops allow the Ukrainian youngsters to have fun, build friendships and express their emotions and experiences through a creative outlet.

She praised the youngsters for their efforts and was left with blue and yellow paint – the national colours of Ukraine – on her hands.