Kateryna Gorodnycha and her son Timur are starting a new life in Wales after driving thousands of miles to flee the conflict in Ukraine.

Kateryna Gorodnychahas left Ukraine the day Russian missiles starting hitting her hometown.

The mother, son and two cats have travelled through Kyiv, Poland, Germany and France on a near-2000 mile journey to escape the war in Ukraine.

The pair didn’t have UK visas, but chose to aim for the UK because of the language – and wanted to find refuge where she could speak the language.

Kateryna speaks English, Ukrainian and Russian, and claims she is “lucky” after settling in her new home in Pendoylan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The town has lovingly welcomed the family to Pendoylan, and a signed football shirt and a tracksuit for Timur from Gareth Bale were amongst the gifts they have received before enjoying a 13th birthday in Cardiff.

Timur with his signed Gareth Bale journey

The mother of one said: “All of Glynis and Martin’s friends and neighbours have done more for us in the past two weeks than we could expect,” she said. “They came and picked us up, took us wherever we needed to .A football star gave a shirt for Timur and a brand-new Wales tracksuit too.

“A family friend drove us around cities and towns for two days in a row and then drove the same routes with me so I could drive. To babysit us. Me. Honestly. No one has ever babysat me since childhood. A new feeling. Wonderful.”

Kateryna started the process on March 18th by applying for Visas, but departed on the two week journey before they were approved.

She said “I was in the middle of Ukraine, it was quite safe but a later missiles came there. I filled in the forms when I realised the war wasn’t going to stop quickly.”

About leaving Ukraine and departing west, she added “Maybe I was not to clever to do this because I wasn’t sure I’d get my visas.”

Kateryna on her journey with Timur and two pet cats

Her visas eventually arrived after just 10 days whilst in Lille, staying with friends and friends of friends.

“I was very lucky because I have many friends who are still waiting for their visas.” 

Choosing the UK for refuge, Kateryna said “I realised that if I went to any other country in Europe, I’d be helpless.”

“The UK was my only chance to do something and understand what’s going on around me and be part of life.”

Kateryna posted a description of herself and her son on a Facebook page setting up refugees with UK hosts, and was spotted by Glynis Lloyd – who offered them his home.

Glynis didn’t stop there though, and said it may be possible for Kateryna to get a job as a producer – with Timur potentially being close to the Welsh football team.

She said “I thought it sounded like a paradise.”

“It was really exactly the right decision, because we are really, really happy to be here.” 

“My life is starting from the beginning again. I’m 43 and it’s pretty weird to do something for the first time like this.”

Timur is very excited to explore a new country whilst attending a new school and making new friends – and is also excited to learn Welsh.

The families return to Ukraine is dependant on “how the war ended.”

“If in some way Russia will dominate our territory, I don’t want to live in tyranny.”

“So I accept the thoughts about staying here but I can’t accept the thought that Ukraine will fall.”