Waverley Borough Council joined people around the world in commemorating Ukraine Independence Day on 24 August 2023.
The date marks exactly 32 years since Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is 18 months since Russia’s invasion of the country.
Waverley Borough Council paid tribute by raising the Ukrainian flag outside its offices at The Burys. The event was attended by the Mayor, Cllr Penny Rivers, the Leader of the Council, council staff, and Reverend Simon Taylor of St Peter & St Paul Minister Church, who said a prayer based on a Ukrainian hymn from the 19th Century, a time when the Ukrainian language was being supressed.
Communities across the country showed their support for Ukrainian refugees, uniting people from all walks of life in support of those who fled their homes and honour those who chose to stay and fight for their country.
The Mayor, Councillor Penny Rivers, who delivered a speech at the event said:
“Today, in common with people all over the world, we mark Ukraine Independence Day.
“Ukraine has been an independent, free country since 1991 - something they do not take for granted and are having to fight to keep.
“The Ukrainian people and their courage in a time of war have impressed and inspired us all. Today their beautiful blue and yellow flag will fly everywhere, all around the world.
“We wish the free people of Ukraine a Happy Independence Day, and we stand in solidarity with those who suffer. We stand in solidarity with those who serve – the defenders of the nation. We stand with those who feed and clothe and care for others. We stand with those who have lost homes and loved ones. We stand with those who have made their homes here. We stand for justice and for peace. We stand for Ukraine.
“Happy Independence Day. Slava Ukraine!”
In April 2022, Viktoriia fled her home in Ukraine with her daughter, while her husband remained in the country to join the Ukrainian army. She now works as an Accountant at Waverley Borough Council and to her, Ukrainian Independence Day is more important than ever.
“For me, Independence Day means a path,” said Viktoriia. “It is a long road, but it is the only way to a better future, democracy, economic development, and recognition of Ukraine by the world as a respected state. Ukrainians deserve that, we are fighting for that, and the price we are paying is high.
“It is so important and valuable for us that the UK continues to show comprehensive support for Ukraine, even after a year and a half of the ongoing war. Please keep doing this and please keep praying for the armed forces of Ukraine, our heroes, as they fight this evil regime and for peace all over the world.”
To find out how you can support Ukraine visit www.waverley.gov.uk/Services/Benefits-and-community-support/Support-for-Ukraine
Image: Waverley Mayor, Councillor Penny Rivers with Ukrainian members of the Waverley community, gathered outside the council offices at The Burys in Godalming.