Brighton woman who helped rescue Ukrainian orphans describes children's 'disbelief'

The group travelled to Warsaw in Poland after they were evacuated from Ukraine over a week ago Credit: ITV News

A woman from Brighton, who was known as the Angel of Mostar for her courage in rescuing hundreds of children from war torn Bosnia, has stepped in to help young people in Ukraine.

Sally Becker had been travelling to the country to offer help to doctors in the troubled area, but when she heard about a group of orphans trapped in a town that had come under fire, she organised a mission to get them to safety. 

They brought 54 children to sanctuary in the UK after their orphanage, which was situated in the Ukrainian town of Denepro, came under heavy bombing.

The operation, which was a combined effort from charities Magen David Adom UK, Save A Child and Dnipro Kids, saw children rescued from five orphanages in an evacuation dubbed "Project Light".

The group left Warsaw in Poland on Wednesday afternoon on a Virgin Atlantic flight after they were evacuated from Ukraine over a week ago.

Sally Becker, founder of Save A Child, hit the headlines in 1990 for her courageous work in Bosnia, where she led a convoy from Sussex to deliver aid and help wounded children.

She dodged snipers, shell fire and saved hundreds of lives. Sally was later imprisoned and shot during humanitarian efforts in Kosovo. Despite this, it has never stopped her from tirelessly working in Iraq, Syria and other war zones.

Sally and her daughter Billie had been in Ukraine to meet doctors about an app, developed by her charity, to connect them with experts across the world. She went to help the trapped orphans once she heard about the plight of the trapped orphans.

The group of children, including a one-year-old and a two-year-old, along with seven legal guardians, landed at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday night.

  • WATCH: Sally Becker talk about rescuing the Ukrainian orphans

Sally Becker said: "It was such a relief to be on that plane because for quite a few days it's been touch-and-go as to whether we'd be able to bring them.

"We had all the visas done quite quickly. The British government were amazing, the Home Office was incredible and the British embassy in Poland sent a team down to where the children were waiting and they just managed to do everything like biometric visas in 10 hours. It was unbelievable, I've never encountered this before but we still had to get certain permissions."

"The children couldn't believe it when they saw the plane on the tarmac, I saw their eyes widen and they came on and sat down immediately started playing with the screens on the back of the seats. The whole plane was just for us and the crew were just phenomenal."

"I'm over the moon that it's over, it was a long, hard mission. I wasn't where I would normally be with shelling and sniper fire - at no time was it like that - but it was a lot of travelling."

The children are now being temporarily cared for by a charity in Scotland after a sponsor who was connected to Dnipro Kids came forward.

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted about the group's arrival, thanking her team at the Home Office, the Ukrainian and Polish authorities, the Scottish Government and Virgin Atlantic.

She said: "The care they will receive will go some way to heal their suffering."