A poignant memorial service to mark the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine took place on Saturday, with Bolton residents and Ukrainian guests gathering for a candle light prayer.

The service was held at St Patrick’s RC Church,  two years to the day since Russia invaded Ukraine.

It was organised by Bolton Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, chair of the Bolton Branch, said there is sadness across the Ukrainian community today.

He said: “I feel sadness as we have reached the second anniversary because Ukraine didn’t want this war, it was forced upon us, and it was forced upon us for our survival.

“We will not lose because of the determination but I do remember waking up two years ago, and hearing the news and I thought no he [Putin] has not has he?

“I was just in disbelief because I didn’t think he would do it.

“I thought it was all bravado.

The Bolton News:  Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn Bolton Branch Chair of AUGB Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn Bolton Branch Chair of AUGB (Image: NQ)“We need the continued support, anything that anybody can give will help, we will look after the humanitarian aid side of it.

“There will only be an end to the conflict when we have won because even if there was a peace treaty that will just mean Putin will rearm and start again.

“To him there is only one either total victory or total defeat.

“It is all tinged with sadness, a lot of our Ukrainian guests are here but a lot of them have got families at home, some of them have husbands at home and some have parents at home who have stayed behind and this for them is sadness because they can’t be with them.”

Juliia Naidonova, a Ukrainian guest who found refuge in Bolton when the war began said: “My life seems okay here in Bolton, but my heart and soul are still back in Ukraine.

“I am very upset that it is two years on since the war began and there is still no peace.

“My parents are still in Ukraine, and I speak to them every day, and all I hear in the background are the rockets and the sirens.

“Please keep supporting Ukraine both morally and monetary and please pressurise Russia and Putin to stop.”

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Zoryana Jurczyszyn, deputy chair of the Bolton Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain said: “I’m feeling very sad really, it was a shock when it started, and everyone hoped it wouldn’t last this long and now it is kind of difficult to see how and when it will finish.

“There has been a lot of good work going on in Bolton throughout the two years in support of humanitarian aid and refugees who have been here.

“I would like to say thank you to everybody who has supported from day one in whatever way whether that has been from coming to our events, or being sponsors or donating to us when we were outside the town hall.

“Please keep Ukraine in your thoughts and awareness, there are a lot of very sad things happening in the world at the moment and they all need support unfortunately, nobody is trying to rise above another one.

“Our Ukrainian guests are very sad that it has got to two years, but I think to a certain extent that they are also grateful that they are here and able to continue a life, not physically in a war zone.

“But at the same time their lives are on hold, and they don’t know exactly how their futures are going to pan out.”

The Bolton News: Residents and Ukrainian guests come together to commemorate second year anniversary of war in UkraineResidents and Ukrainian guests come together to commemorate second year anniversary of war in Ukraine (Image: NQ)Cllr Emily Mort, Labour councillor for Tonge with The Haulgh, attended the memorial service.

She said: “We have been involved with the Ukrainian society for the last two years and I felt like it was really important to show solidarity on the anniversary.

“The Bolton Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain is in my ward in Tonge, and we have been working really closely with them for the last two years, so it is really important to show solidarity in times like this and all we can do I guess is pray for peace.”

There will also be a memorial service and fundraising concert on Sunday, February 25.

From 2pm, residents are invited to attend the service at Bolton Parish Church to remember all the fallen heroes as well as raising funds for those still in the war-torn country.

At the event there will be a ten-minute memorial service followed by a poignant concert with the Ukrainian Chamber Choir Svitoch and other Ukrainian artists performing.

If you have a story or something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at chloe.wilson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on X @chloewjourno.