Ukrainian children’s group to perform at KACCL fundraiser event

The Ukrainian/British Friendship Group, a children’s performance group at Lawrence Batley Theatre consisting of Ukrainian refugee children and British host family children, is set to perform at a fundraiser event organised by the annual Kirklees and Calderdale Charity Lunch (KACCL).

Reaching a jaw-dropping fundraising total of more than £32,446 in 2019 – the last time the event was held before the pandemic – the KACCL committee is hoping to raise even more in at this year’s fundraiser on December 1 to support children and young people across the region.

Two local causes will benefit from the money raised at what will be the sixth annual KACCL event. Calderdale SmartMove is a charity supporting homeless and vulnerable individuals and families across Calderdale, sourcing safe and secure tenancies and offer intensive support over a 12-month period.

Lawrence Batley Theatre is an arts venue in the heart of Huddersfield staging a range of drama, dance, comedy and family work. At the centre of their charitable organisation is a commitment to young people, and they have provided the Ukranian/British Friendship group a free space at the theatre as well as support by the theatre staff. Through their Young Company they provide weekly drama sessions as well as the opportunity to meet and work with professional artists.

The Ukrainian children’s group will be performing a dance to the song ‘Stefania’ by Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest 2022 winners, Kalush Orchestra. They will also be singing a song in Ukrainian which is a victory march entitled ‘There is a red viburnum in the meadow’, which will showcase the children’s origins from all over Ukraine including Slavutich, Kharkiv, Vyshneve, Dnipro, Kyiv, Kryvyi, Rih, Chernitvtsi, and Bila Tserkva.

Along with the dance number and victory march, the group will perform a second short song, “I will paint for you the stars” in which the children will be supported by their mothers. These songs and dances have become symbols of Ukrainian strength during the war, carrying the message: “Let there be spring, where we stand until the end. We will not be broken by war. Ukraine is alive forever, Ukraine is our land, Ukraine unites hearts.”

The group’s leader, Natalia Mirkun, fled Ukraine with her young daughter and arrived in the UK in August 2022. A multi-talented performer, she sang back-up and danced for European pop sensation Dr Alban, as well as starring in Ukrainian films and theatre shows.

Natalia said about leading the group: “I wanted to create something which brings together British and Ukrainian children. For me, it is a symbol that our power is simply to be together, to look in the same direction, to support each other so that we can create an amazing world for our children. We need to start now and to work together.”

The KACCL event will take place 11am to 3pm on Thursday 1 December at Cedar Court Hotel in Huddersfield and will be compered by Pete Emmett.  

The event includes a three-course lunch, a charity auction and entertainment by singing firefighter, Jonny Arey, and the Orange Box Choir, which is part of Square Chapel Arts Centre community outreach programme. The choir was set up from the funds raised by the second KACCL event in 2017 and has performed at KACCL ever since.

Steve Crowther, chair of the KACCL Committee and managing director at Crowther Accountants, said: “We’re really excited to be able to bring back KACCL after a three-year gap due to the pandemic.

“This year’s beneficiaries do some incredible work within our local communities, which is needed now more than ever with the current cost of living crisis and the adverse effects Covid had on many young people. We want to ensure that through KACCL, and the charities we are working with, we can start to support some of those affected.

“We can’t wait to bring the local business community together again and urge anyone interested in attending to secure their tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

The event is made possible by the KACCL organising committee, comprised of businesses from across the region including Cedar Court Hotels, Chadwick Lawrence, Crowther Accountants, Eastwood & Partners, Faith PR, Hellomint, Stafflex, Halifax Town Football Club and Tracy Sheldon.