Durham schoolboy gets letter from Ukrainian President saying his support makes Zelenskyy smile

Thomas is extremely proud of his letter and hasn't stopped showing people since receiving it. Credit: Robin Hadden Durham Trinity School & Sports College

A schoolboy from County Durham who felt compelled to write to the President of Ukraine after learning about what was happening in the country, has received a reply.

Thomas Handley, from Aykley Heads, learnt about the conflict at Durham Trinity School, as they were collecting supplies for refugees in Poland, and wanted to write a letter of support.

Little did the 12-year-old know, but a few weeks later a personal letter on headed paper, allegedly signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, would arrive for him at the school in return.

Robin Haddon, the youngster's class teacher, said: "He won't let go of the letter yet!

"He was absolutely blown away by it. His first response was to show everybody in school, he took it round class to class on Friday morning (29 April) - starting at the top with the headteacher."

Thomas' letter asked if the President was alright, and showed solidarity with the besieged country. Credit: Robin Haddon Durham Trinity School & Sports College

Thomas' letter was sent off during the Easter holidays, with a convoy of relief from the school in aid of refugees arriving into Poland.

Mr Haddon said: "We try to teach our pupils that individuals can make a difference.

"The fact we were sending so much aid to Ukraine sent the message that 'you are helping, you are making a difference.'

"They just have such an empathetic nature, thinking of other people and thinking what can we do to help?"

When staff at the refugee centre found the letter and heard how Thomas wanted to offer support, they pledged to forward it on.

Mr Haddon said no one was expecting to hear anything more, so it was a surprise when on 29 April a letter addressed to Thomas arrived at the school.

He added: "It blew us away. That someone, whether the president or someone on his behalf - would take the time in what must be an incredibly stressful time for them, to reply personally to a 12-year-old boy's letter of support. It's just so incredible. We are so incredibly proud."

A personal letter to Thomas on headed paper and signed by President Zelenksyy was a surprise for everyone at Durham Trinity School Credit: Robin Haddon Durham Trinity School & Sports College

He continued: "I think it impressed on Thomas that your actions count and you have made difference to somebody.

"Just a small action to help does matter. I think a lot of children and adults think 'I can't make a difference,' but I'm glad Thomas decided to do something."

The letter dated 23 April read:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your letter of support. I am ok and thank you for your help. We hope to bring peace to Ukraine and food to the citizens of all the country and rebuild the towns.

What you say in our letter and what the United Kingdom does to support brings a smile to my face and to many others.


Volodymyr Zelenskyy