Mum and daughter flee Ukraine with four cats and a dog to start new life in Torquay

  • ITV News West Country report Sam Blackledge hears the family's story.

A mother and daughter have fled war-torn Ukraine with their four cats and a dog for a new life in Torquay.

The pair have now settled with their pets in a flat owned by a GP practice in Torquay.

Staff at the Brunel Medical Practice are among hundreds of people in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay who have been moved to offer accommodation to people escaping the conflict.

The team made the flat - which is owned by the GP partners - available to mother and daughter Liudmyla and Nataliia, who have moved to Devon from Kyiv with their five pets.

Liudmyla and Nataliia's pets on the journey to the UK

The pair spoke to ITV News West Country about their turbulent journey, as they were forced to flee from their home in Ukraine due to Russia's invasion and settle in Devon.

They have told how they had to sleep in an underground carpark for a week after fleeing.

Nataliia said: "Our life in Ukraine was very good. We had a good property, good jobs, when we leave Kyiv we didn't have any plan.

"We decided we cannot stay like this we don't know how quickly Russia [would] occupy Kyiv or not, and we decided to leave at the last second. We packed our stuff, take our pets and early morning when we can go, we go."

One of the big challenges was transporting their pets over.

Nataliia said: "It's our family. We didn't think for a moment to bring them with us or not, we just put them in a cage in the car and go. It's part of our life.

"Of course they were very ill and sick sometimes. I think for them it was much [more] difficult because they have no idea where they were [being] taken and how it will be in the future but they are all now in normal health condition, they're all ok and we are glad that we can bring them with us."

GP practice manager Rachael Lankshear said: “The whole team was moved to action by the harrowing pictures we were seeing on the news. The partners agreed to offer up an empty flat they owned and the team came together to decorate and furnish it. 

This was a way of us showing support for Ukraine in a personal way at such a difficult time.”

The pets had to be quarantined on their arrival to the UK

Liudmyla, a retired nurse, and hairdresser Nataliia arrived in Torquay in May and recently showed their appreciation for practice staff by cooking them lunch, including blinis - a favourite food from home.

They said: "We are so very grateful for the wonderful, kind and generous support that Brunel Medical Practice have given us. 

“They have helped to make an incredibly difficult time easy to bear and deal with, and for this we are eternally thankful and will never forget what they have done for us. 

"We feel so lucky and so happy to be here in beautiful Torquay, and so safe.”

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