FROM cowering from bombs in a basement in Kyiv to tending a vegetable patch down a country lane, this Ukrainian family are happily settling into life in Hampshire.

Victoria Milevskaya, a 42-year-old member of the all-girl Ukrainian symphonic rock band Symfomania and a drumming teacher, and her ten-year-old son Sasha Milevskyi, fled to Toothill after being matched with sponsors Katie and Josh Betteridge, fellow creatives.

Daily Echo:

After spending several nights in freezing conditions in the basement of their rehearsal room on the outskirts of the besieged Ukrainian capital, listening to bombs falling nearby, the family decided to join the stampede and make for the Polish border.

ALSO READ: Southampton plays for Ukraine raises thousands

They drove the 700km in four days, often getting stuck in traffic jams and stopping at military checkpoints.

Victoria's husband, also Sasha and a fellow musician and sound engineer, left them there and returned to Kyiv where he has been transporting refugees and aid and providing shelter. 

Victoria and Sasha then spent two hours walking 9km across the Polish border with just their backpacks and the clothes they were wearing.

READ MORE: Daily Echo and Newsquest Ukraine campaign passes £30,000 mark - how to help and where the money goes

They were in Poznan for four weeks before gaining visas and taking a flight from Wroclaw to Bournemouth to start their new life.

With tears in her eyes, Victoria told the Daily Echo: "I did not want to leave my husband but he said you have to go for Sasha's sake and he was right.

Daily Echo:

"We have already had enough kindness to last a whole year. We've been here two weeks and I just have so many positive emotions.

"We are so glad to be here after a difficult couple of months.

"I just knew that this was the family for us. Everyone has been fantastic. Although I am anxious about family and friends at home, we are happy here."

Katie had seen an advert on the Nursling and Rownhams Facebook page from a Rownhams-based Polish musician friend of Victoria's husband Sasha asking for help for his wife and son.

Katie felt the match was 'meant to be' as her and husband Josh, a drummer with the indie pop band Wild Front, had been hoping to open their family's home, featuring a music studio, up to Ukrainian guests. 

Daily Echo:

Sasha, decked out in a Saints hoodie and playing with an array of Lego donated by villagers, enjoys playing football in the garden and growing plants and vegetables and is due to start at Nursling Primary School on Monday.

Ukrainian families are arriving in Southampton every day, say members of the Southampton Ukrainian Community Support Group, a group of residents who are pulling together to help get refugees settled and established.

The launch of their social group last weekend was attended by 100 people, including the mayor of Southampton Councillor Alex Houghton, and one of the city's MPs Royston Smith.

The weekly event will continue with a Ukrainian Easter-themed event at The Cricketers Arms in Woolston on Saturday from midday. 

The Polish Club is once again busy receiving donations at the former Toys R Us store in Southampton following the Easter break.

Regular aid missions leave the depot heading for Ukraine and Poland with several hundred pallets of goods already donated by city wellwishers. 

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