Chiddingfold, Surrey

A very successful two-day event marking Sydenhurst Residential Home’s 60th anniversary took place over the bank holiday weekend (for photo's see slide-show on augb hompage - more photos will follow soon). 

Sunday saw the “Hoverla” Ukrainian Dance Ensemble from Derby, “Troyanda”singers from London and small children from Waltham Cross entertain guests with a lovely repertoire of singing and dancing in a specially constructed marquee on Sydenhurst’s main lawn.

The new Apostolic Administrator for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, led a Service of Thanksgiving (Moleben’) during which he movingly spoke about the fate of those Ukrainians who faced being repatriated 60 years ago through injuries sustained during the war.  They needed help and their own countrymen heeded the call, casting aside their own well-being by generously contributing to secure the purchase of Sydenhurst for use as an Invalids Home and thereafter to continually provide care for those who needed it and who could not help themselves. 

The Minister Councillor and Deputy Head of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom, Mr Viachelsav Yatsiuk, planted a tree to mark the anniversary.  In an equally moving address, Mr Yatsiuk highlighted three aspects relating to the historical significance of the “Zelenyi Klyn”, the Ukrainian virtues that it had brought to the fore and the lessons for today’s generations. 

Mr Yatsiuk said that the acquisition of Sydenhurst and events surrounding it demonstrated the ability of Ukrainians to unite and make sacrifices when faced with the need to protect their own interests and values.  The exemplary united stand of Ukrainians here 60 years ago provides a reminder to all Ukrainians throughout the world that much can be achieved if everyone pulls together, even in the face of adversity when circumstances might initially appear to be impossible.

The episode also serves to prove that Ukrainians are capable of looking after their own land, Mr Yatsiuk continued.  After six decades the property and land at Sydenhurst hasn’t lost any of its charm or appeal.  Quite the opposite!  Sydenhurst has been developed to become an even more attractive and enchanting little piece of England.

Thirdly, Sydenhurst has revealed the genuine good nature, openness and tolerance of Ukrainians towards people of all nationalities and cultures who over the years have been able to feel completely at home here.  This is evident by merely listening to the many languages that are and have been spoken here:  English, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Greek, Slovakian, Italian, French...  A fitting reminder to everyone on how society and communities can and should live and work together in true peace and harmony.

AUGB President, Mr Zenko Lastowiecki, wished the staff and residents of Sydenhurst a very happy 60th Anniversary. He said that the Home’s achievements of the last 60 years can be attributed to the hard work and diligence of many people, including staff and residents at the Home, Central Office and more recently the assistance provided by Mr and Mrs Kent and the Friends of Sydenhurst.  Mr Lastowiecki continued by saying:  “I am pleased that we have with us today not only the current staff but previous home managers and workers who can equally celebrate their success...  My thanks go to Bishop Hlib and the Deputy Ambassador of Ukraine, Mr Vyacheslav Yatsiuk, who by their presence here today have made these celebrations even more special.  Finally, my congratulations go to David, Amanda and the whole team at Sydenhurst for organising these wonderful celebrations and for their continued success in ensuring that Sydenhurst remains one of the best Residential Homes in Surrey”.
As the sun began to set somewhere behind the very thick cloak of clouds that had hung over Sydenhurst all day, everyone was treated to an abundance of delightful food and drink.  Noone cared about the cool weather.  In fact it seemed positively warm inside the marquee.  Everyone continued to celebrate into the night – singing and dancing - to the sounds of “Zhnyva” from Waltham Cross.  It seemed as though noone wanted to leave.

On the following day, a beautifully sunny Bank Holiday Monday, a jazz trio gently played and entertained on Sydenhurst’s main lawn. Most of the residents had come out to enjoy the music and cream teas. The afternoon got busier by the minute. Many families arrived to visit their parents and to join in the diamond jubilee celebrations.

Volodymyr Muzyczka, a member of the AUGB’s Board of Directors later said:  “The atmosphere was truly wonderful with grand and great grandchildren running around the lawn. You could really see the loving and caring side of the staff towards the residents and the trust that the families have towards the home and staff. There was a very genuine family atmosphere.  I managed to speak to many of the sons and daughters of residents who told me of previous homes where their parents had lived. Every one of them said that they felt lucky to have found Sydenhurst. One English lady, a daughter of one of the residents, even approached me to ask if I could explain what "varenyky" were because her mother absolutely adored them and yet the daughter could not fathom what they were.  One boiling pan of salty water and 15 minutes later the daughter had a taste of her first “varenyk” and was hooked.”

Mr Muzyczka continued:  “The event was well attended with a few coaches full of people and many private cars. Some of the old Ukrainian Youth Association campers (Mr Kuchta and Co) had come to Sydenhurst for the weekend to relive their “salad days”.  They pledged to organise a reunion camp...  I left the home at around five o'clock with the music still gently drifting across the sunbathed lawn.  Happy, smiling faces enjoying their cream tea and the company of their loved ones with children playing at their feet and with more people arriving...”.

The weekend event was simply brilliantly organised by David White, Amanda Boxhall and all of the wonderful staff at Sydenhurst.

The celebrations provided everyone with a fabulous and unique opportunity to meet one another;  guests, Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian visitors from near and afar, staff, residents and their families, local neighbours and villagers, members of the friends of Sydenhurst....

All who attended will undoubtedly agree, that David, Amanda and the whole of the team at Sydenhurst (including staff family members) merit our very very sincere gratitude to them for making the Sydenhurst’s Diamond Jubilee such a memorable occasion.

Thank you and “Mnohaya Lita” to you all!!!

Fedir Kurlak 

Ukrayinska Dumka


Great Britain The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain has many branches throughout the country. Select a branch below to find out more information.