Paddington Bear Community Event for Ukrainian Children and Mothers

120 Ukrainian children and mums who had fled war at home found a warm welcome with Beaconsfield families about 6 months ago. It was high time for a Beaconsfield fun afternoon! Jon Wardle, Director of the National Film and TV School made the school’s great cinema available and sourced a copy of PADDINGTON in Ukrainian with the words spoken by President Volodymyr Zelensky, a rare gem. Thank you Studio Canal, for lending us the film.

Arranging restorative events for our refugee guests, not unlike some of those following WW2, was the idea of Beaconsfield film Society’s chairĀ  Dieter Shaw, whose own experience led to our wish to help repay the kindness of strangers at moments of great need. Great need indeed, as following their often dangerous flight to safety, insecurity for our guests beckons again. Their guaranteed 6 months tenure with us ends for many families and there is no follow-up plan.

To give everyone a happy afternoon, Dieter and his many volunteers got to work. Councillor Paul Henry of ‘better connected Beaconsfield’ came on board first and provided essential Ukrainian contact details and funds for the little extras from his own charity, Heart of Bucks also bolstered our funds. Ukrainian and Russian-speaking volunteers from the various communities in and around Beaconsfield helped collate lists, checking and updating details from those who would arrive with the help of their hosts, whereas others needed one of our volunteer drivers. Yet other volunteers were tasked with looking after the food or booking every guest in. Everyone mucked in.

The staff of the NFTS changed the school’s student refectory into a 120-seater restaurant with a proper stage for our conjurer Clive Peacock. From our BFS George Mardall, our photographer, Viktor Csigas, NFTS Projectionist, there was Ukrainian music courtesy Viktoriia Lechenko, all volunteers. Delicious Ukrainian food made by happy mothers mixing with others exchanging experiences and tips, children enjoying the conjurer, playing together indoors and out in complete safety.

Our film was a great success. Laughter galore for mums and their children. Moments of joy and forgetting. Moviemaking of the highest quality with twists and turns that scare a little and delight a lot.

And then came the time to return. Hosts and volunteer drivers collecting their charges, last-minute arrangements to meet again, the children clutching their goody bags, happy faces saying Thank You.

No THANK YOU, our pleasure.