Bury nurse flies to Poland to help with refugees fleeing Ukrainian conflict with Russia

A grandmother from Bury who has flown to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war with Russia says she is willing to do whatever to help those in need.

Wanda Warrington, known as Wendy, has joined forces with a medical team in Przemysl - a short distance from the Polish-Ukrainian border - working as a first responder alongside two medical students.

The qualified nurse and midwife, from Tottington, says she felt 'compelled' to help Ukrainians who had been displaced as a result of Russia's invasion of their country.

She says: "When I saw what was happening over here, I thought my skill set can be best used, rather than sending aid I felt a little useless, so I decided because I speak Polish I thought that might be more beneficial, for me being over here at least I can communicate.

"With being a qualified and registered nurse and midwife I thought they might need some support - so that's what I did."

Wendy embraces 'Olga' Credit: ITV News

Wendy's skill set has already been put to work as she helped to reassure a mother, who is six months pregnant with a baby girl.

'Olga' had been travelling for days and told Wendy she was worried sick, but thanks to the midwife - she was able to hear her baby's heartbeat.

Wendy says: "This is what I came to do to be able to reassure that lady who spent 18 hours travelling over here with her family to escape, for her to be able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, and to reduce and move her to tears.

"It's such a small thing for me to just do that check on her, but that massive reassurance that it’s given her so it’s been worthwhile, even if I’ve helped one person.

"She came in quite anxious and stressed and she’s gone away smiling, and for me my job is done."

But the job is also taking an emotional toll on Wendy, who says she needs time to reflect herself after working 12 hour shifts.

"I feel emotional after it all," she says. "I try not to show it, I have a little moment, usually at the back of our trailer where I have a little moment.

"Especially today it’s really picking up because word is getting out there, so I’m seeing more people that are coming through, they’re hearing about me.

"Just having that word with somebody, but listening to their stories it really moves me as well, I just need to make sure I have some time as well to reflect."

  • Wendy talks to Granada Reports correspondent Victoria Grimes in Przemysl

Wendy and fellow medic Dominic, from Poland, are preparing for an 'influx' of injured Ukrainians fleeing the fighting in Ukraine.

Wendy, 55, has been given three weeks' leave from her role in the NHS by Pennine Care Trust and is using her own money to fund her trip to eastern Europe.

The grandmother of five has family in Poland - with her parents and grandparents born in the country - her grandfather moved to the UK after surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Wendy has also been involved in collecting donations for Ukraine at the Polish Social Centre in Bury.

The nurse says with the increase in bombing and shelling from the Russian army, on areas closer to the Polish border, the team are now preparing to deal with more traumatic injuries.

She says: "What we’re expecting now is that we’re going to be seeing more of the wounded walking, potentially the soldiers they won’t be able to deal with over there, they’re going to bring them over here.

"We are going to have a team of trauma specialists who can deal with those injuries.

"Being the person I am, the professional, you just deal with what you see, rather than thinking about what might be you deal with what’s on the ground."

Wendy is working 12 hour shifts outside the centre and is staying at local student housing accommodation.

Wendy says she now wants to set up clinics for pregnant women, or those who have new borns, coming through the centre.

"One of the things I’m going to set up here in an antenatal clinic and post-natal clinic," she says.

"I want to do is go round, speak to volunteers and the volunteers in there to spread the word that we can give pregnant women reassurance."

She is prepared to help deliver babies if necessary, she adds. "I have got a delivery pack, I have everything I need, I have my own resuscitation equipment, all my equipment, if it comes to it and I have to deliver a baby then I will."

Wendy is working in a mobile medical unit set up outside the reception centre in Przemysl.

But she says leaving her own three children, and grandchildren, behind has been the hardest part of her decision.

She says: "When I spoke to my husband he knew I was going to do it, for me the hardest thing is my daughter and son were quite concerned, but they were quite supportive.

"The most difficult bit is I’m pulled from my grandchildren."

JustGiving page has raised more than £3,600 towards medical supplies, which her husband Simon will be helping to ship out to Poland with the help of his employer, Segen.

Listen to analysis of the crisis on ITV News'