Ukrainian songs ‘enchant’ festival-goers

A UKRAINIAN refugee’s traditional songs were one of the highlights of an event raising money for an injured boy in her homeland.

Katrin Ananieva sang at the festival organised by accordionist Andy Coles, which was dedicated to supporting Roman Oleksiv, who is seven years old, and suffered severe burns in the Russian missile attack that killed his mother and more than 20 other people.

He met Roman’s father Yaroslav online when they both served on international juries for world accordion championships during the pandemic.

Andy’s employers, insurance company Motorcycle Direct, donated their at base in Thornbury as a venue for the event in June.

Andy said: “The event was a great success. In fact, I’m already being asked if I would arrange something similar for next year.

“As well as accordion soloists, duettists and the wonderful Marlborough Accordion Orchestra, we were blessed with a huge range of diverse talent, much of it local.

“The event opened with the Bristol Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble before we headed into the main accordion competition. 

“A 14-year old Ukrainian refugee, Katrin Ananieva treated us to a couple of enchanting traditional songs from her homeland.

“Also, by video, we had contributions from two Ukrainian accordionists who are currently studying in France under the world-renowned teacher and friend of mine, Fred Deschamps.

“A further video featured 35 of the world’s top accordionists performing a piece of music called ‘Romance For You’.  Yaroslav Oleksiv had written this for his wife, Halyna, just months before she met her death as a result of a Russian attack.  There were tears!”

Other performers at the South/South West Accordion Festival, the local area festival held on behalf of the National Accordion Organisation, included the South Gloucestershire women-only barbershop-style choir Black Sheep Harmony.

Andy, who lives in Downend, said: “The day ended with the audience dancing and singing along with the talented Panache Steel Band from Thornbury, which produced the most joyous sound. 

“We are so lucky to have such talent on our own doorstep. 

“The day would not have happened without the performers, but I’d equally like to thank Ray & Anna Bodell, (another world-class accordion teacher and adjudicator)  for helping with running the event, Anne and Steve Takel of Thornbury and, of course, Europa Group for allowing me use of their premises for the day.”

So far Andy has raised more than £400 for Roman – donations can be made online at