Saturday, May 14, 2022

Louise Walsh

The brave daughter who rescued her mother and 99-year-old grandmother from Ukraine is due home today after an appeal to secure a ferry booking was answered by Stena Line.

The end of an incredible 6,000km round trip will end this evening when Luba Healy and her family arrive home to Trim, Co Meath.

Luba, her husband Eugene, teenage son Francis and friend Diarmuid Dawson all travelled across Europe last week in a camper van and jeep to rescue her 70-year-old mother Nina and 99-year-old grandmother Galina from the war torn country.

They also collected five adult neighbours, a four-year-old girl and three dogs last Monday to bring to Ireland for refuge.

However, due to constant stoppages to check on Galina’s health, the convoy missed a ferry back last Wednesday and had feared they would have to wait until next Tuesday to secure another booking.

Nina and Galina looking out of camper van in Cherbourg before boarding the ferry.

They had feared extra delays would have a negative effect on Galina’s health.

Their attempts to contact ferry companies were met with automated services and after struggling to find anyone to talk to for help, they put out a media appeal to get them home.

The appeal was answered by Stena Line who went out of their way to accommodate the large crew on the overnight ferry from Cherbourg to Rosslare free of charge and with meals provided.

Ahead of docking later today, Luba said she was so looking forward to getting her family home and seeing her young daughter Hannah Rose and son Harrison who the couple had left with friends back in Trim.

“We are all very tired. Our faces are worn with tiredness, but we are so happy to finally get home. The end is in sight and I can’t wait to get Nana and Mam back to Trim

“The guys back home have transformed our play room into a downstairs room for Nana, with a special bed and mattress and everything.

“I can’t wait to see my daughter and baby son. I missed them so much.

“There are so many people we want to thank for helping us on this journey, but we are hugely thankful to Stena Line for answering our call. They absolutely couldn’t do enough for us and all were fantastic.

The whole group before boarding the ferry.

“Nana and many of the ladies with us have never been on a ferry before, so it is an experience for them”

In a statement PR and Communications manager of Stena Line, Simon Palmer said: “As a company we took the decision early in the conflict to permit free travel to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. We have assisted thousands since the outbreak of the conflict and believe this is the right thing for a company like ours to do.

“We are also providing free transportation for humanitarian aid by NGOs and charities in liaison with the Polish authorities in Belfast and Dublin. It is particularly gratifying to help someone like Luba’s grandmother who at 99 years old has lived through so much in her long life and is possibly the eldest person to ever travel with us.”

Luba left Trim last Saturday morning after finally persuading her mother and grandmother to leave their home in Haivoron and come to Ireland

Since the Russian invasion began, Luba had been ringing her mother constantly, not knowing if she would get to talk to her again the following day.

Apart from a visit to Crimea when she was 28, Galina has never left the Ukraine and was being pushed to air raid shelters wheelbarrow by Nina who then carried her on her back down to the basements.

After the emotional reunion, Luba said she could now ‘breathe and sleep again’

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