Musical talents of York Ukrainian refugees likened to the Von Trapps

·3-min read
The musical talents of the Ukrainian Honcharov family, who are staying near Dunnington, have been likened to the Von Trapps, inset left. They performed at a Rotary event in New Earswick, inset right
The musical talents of the Ukrainian Honcharov family, who are staying near Dunnington, have been likened to the Von Trapps, inset left. They performed at a Rotary event in New Earswick, inset right

A FAMILY of Ukrainian refugees - likened to the Von Trapp family from The Sound of Music because of their talents - have been entertaining people in York.

At just nine-years-old Yesania Honcharova wowed the audience at York Vikings Rotary Club’s recent outing for local residents of and invited guests at New Lodge residential home in New Earswick with a beautiful rendition of the song Hallelujah.

Using some of the £2,000 raised over the Christmas period, the Rotary provided food and drink, bingo and a sing-a-long together with music provided by Yesania and her family, who now live with Rotary members, Martin and Pamela Cockerill at their farm outside Dunnington.

Their host, Pam said: “They all sing around the house and they are practicing every evening so the description of the Von Trapp family isn’t far off. Yesania in particular is a very gifted singer and loves performing, and in fact she is going to meet with Sue Lees from Opera North after she got in touch through Facebook.”

Parallels have been drawn between the family and the Von Trapps, whose story is told in The Sound of Music and who fled Austria after the Nazi’s invaded performing in the United States before emigrating there permanently to escape the deteriorating situation in Austria during the Second World War.

Before coming to York, they initially settled in Moldova, where they would play sing to entertain other refugees packed in to shelters.

Yesania, her mother Olena - who plays piano and sings, dad, Andrey who plays guitar and also sings and siblings Hordii, ten, - who also sings and plays the guitar along with three-year-old twins Katya and Dmitri, came to live in York in May having fled their home just outside Kyiv.

Pam says the two older children are now settled at Dunnington Primary School with Hordii having a place to go to Fulford in September, but they are keen to find a place for the twins at a nursery - if only for a few hours a week.

“If any local nursery thinks they can help, that would be amazing. They don’t have any income, they haven’t had any Universal Credit payment,” said Pam.

“Back in the Ukraine Olena works as a music teacher and Andrey is an engineer and a builder. They are both learning English and are keen to do any work. Andrey is happy to do shift work.”

York Vikings Rotary president Ron Gatenby said: “The singing by nine-year-old Ukrainian Yesania was very moving – she’s such a talent and we are grateful that she could help us with our evening’s entertainment.”

One guest Anne, 92, said: “It’s made a real difference to be able to see friends again and catch up. The singer was amazing – I can’t believe that she is only nine-years-old. I wish I had a voice like that.”

York Vikings Rotary Club has around 40 members who meet at Pike Hills Golf Club each Tuesday at 7.30pm and provide practical and financial support to charities and good causes across the region.

Others they support include homeless charity SASH and Hoping street kitchen in York.

If you think you can help the family with either an offer of nursery places for Katya and Dmitri or work for their mum and dad, please email pamelacockerill@hotmail.com

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