A Ukrainian refugee has spoken of her “incredible” experience at Goodison Park on Wednesday night after she and her daughter were invited to watch Everton’s game against Leicester City and meet Toffees star Vitalii Mykolenko.
Nataliia Andrianova and her five-year-old daughter, Sofia, have been living with a sponsor in Liverpool since 11 April after leaving their war-torn home city of Kyiv. Nataliia’s husband, Yaroslav, remains in Ukraine.
Nataliia and Sofia attended Goodison with Everton Season Ticket Member Bill Chambers, who is friend of their host in Liverpool, Andrea Cooper.
The pair were given a rousing ovation by the Goodison faithful after a message welcoming them to the stadium was displayed on the big screen.
And after watching the dramatic 1-1 draw from their seats in the Upper Bullens Stand, Nataliia and Sofia stayed behind to speak with compatriot Mykolenko, with Nataliia explaining how the Everton defender’s warmth and generosity made their night extra special.
“It was just an incredible night,” she told evertonfc.com.
“It was a first match for us and was amazing. To get the goal in the last moments made us so happy!
“And meeting Vitalii was lovely. He is a very kind, friendly young man.
“He said he was very glad we are safe and he was so welcoming. He also signed an Everton shirt for us.
“Everton also gave us a bag with lots of presents for Sofia, which was so nice. It was lovely to see her so very happy.
“I think we will be Everton fans forever!”
On her experience living on Merseyside so far, Nataliia said: “The people here are so nice and have made us feel at home.
“It is amazing that Andrea is sharing her house with us and we have met her lovely parents, too.
“Everyone has been great with us here.”
Goodison Season Ticket Member Bill Chambers, who arranged for Nataliia and Sofia to attend the match, added: “The message on the big screen was all we expected, but Everton went above and beyond.
“There was a goodie bag waiting for them at their seats with a scarf, hat, flag and programme. Sofia was absolutely thrilled.
“Vitalii was just brilliant, too! He spoke to them for about 20 minutes and signed a shirt. He was fantastic with them.”
Volunteers are being asked to help pack clothes on Friday 22 April for a convoy being sent to the Ukrainian border with Poland.
The address the convoy will leave from and packing will take place is: Water Lane Farm, Water Ln, Tarbock Green, Widnes, Prescot, L35 1RD.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Polish Integration Support Centre (PISC). The convoy is due to leave at 2pm on Friday. For details on how you can volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org
A dedicated text donation hotline has been launched by the Club and DEC in the UK to allow supporters to donate £10 to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal by texting EVERTON to 70150*.
*Texts cost £10 and the whole £10 goes to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal plus your standard network charge. You must have bill payer’s permission.
For full t&cs visit dec.org.uk
You can also donate online by visiting the Disaster Emergency Committee’s fundraising page: donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal.