VIDEO: Watch Hugh Bonneville talk to Phil Hewitt/SussexWorld about a new Ukrainian choir in concert

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Paddington and Downton star Hugh Bonneville will be the compere at a very special concert featuring a choir made up of Ukrainian refugees.

For Hugh, who lives near Midhurst, it’s about keeping up awareness of the appalling situation in the Ukraine: “There is a substantial Ukrainian evacuee community around our area and out of that has sprung up a women’s choir, a bit like the Military Wives choir and now that the anniversary (of the invasion) has just passed, we must make sure that we don't lose that awareness. People mustn't be allowed to forget. I want to keep it non-political but there is very little that is political about the invasion of a sovereign country. The invasion of a sovereign country should be repelled with every fibre of the West’s ability without creating a wider conflict.

“We have all been incredibly aware of the Ukrainian voices asking for support in all sorts of ways, and following with horror the events unfolding in their country that's been invaded by Russia, one so often one feels powerless and helpless but people in our area have been magnificent and have opened their doors and their hearts to Ukrainian evacuees. And now some of the mothers and some of the women of the evacuee community have formed a choir which they have called Two Colours. They've been performing in the area partly just to give themselves pleasure as a choir and to get together as a bit of community but they've begun performing in the area and on March 24 at 7.30pm in the Sports Hall at Churcher's School in Petersfield they're going to give a concert.

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"They're going to give a range of classic folk songs from Ukraine as well as contemporary songs and it's going to be a wonderful evening to raise money for a very, very important cause which is a medical evacuation vehicle that will help people at the front line. It will cost 30,000 Euros so anything we can do to raise some funds and awareness for this will be great but the evening will also will be a celebration of Ukrainian culture and really, I think, partly a way for the women involved to say thank you to the people of Petersfield and the surrounding area for the welcome they've received.”

Two Colours ChoirTwo Colours Choir
Two Colours Choir

Alison Bastable, who is helping to promote the concert, is herself host to a Ukrainian family: “We have got five Ukrainians living with us, two mums and their girls. The two mums are sisters and we went to watch the Military Wives in Winchester and it was just so emotional. And I just said to the mums perhaps you should do something like this. Music is so bonding. Music touches us like nothing else does. You could see the women in the Military Wives choir. You could see them holding hands. You could see a tear on their faces and you could see the support that singing brings them and so I suggested it to the mums and so they started a choir. There are 14 of them in the choir, and the older mum says that the only time she sees her younger sister smile is when she is singing and that's the point. Music can do that.”

Olena Ivanchuk is the choir director and Olena Petrovska is the choir administrator. The concert is in The Sports Hall, Churcher's College, Petersfield, GU31 4LB; Friday, March 24 at 7.30pm;

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