New children's book raises funds for Ukraine

Lee and Angela Wardle with the Ukrainian family they host.
Lee and Angela Wardle, pictured with Ahata and her parents.

Published: 10 May 2024

A new children’s book by retired Rochdale head teacher Yvonne Weatherhead MBE has been published to help raise money for children affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Based on true events, ‘No Mission Impossible’ tells the story of ‘Flying Grandma’, a character based on Yvonne who sets off on a mission to try and find a home in the UK for a Ukrainian family after receiving a message through a magical everlasting bluebell from 7-year-old Ahata, who along with her family had fled Ukraine after it was invaded by Russian forces.

After much searching, Flying Grandma finds mum, dad, and Ahata a loving home with real-life Rochdale residents Lee and Angela Wardle in the idyllic local countryside.

Ahata with dogs.

Ahata with the Wardle family dogs.

The book highlights the selflessness of many British people who opened their homes through the government’s Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, with Ukrainian families finding refuge with host families, many still staying to this day.

Lee, an enforcement officer at Rochdale Borough Council, said:

“It was a privilege to welcome Ahata and her parents into our home to offer them a safe and welcome environment and allow Ahata to continue her education at a local school. We thoroughly enjoyed showing them where we live and are now lifelong friends.

“The local support network for Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been greatly appreciated and our hopes and best wishes have been sent with them on their return to Poland.”

Reenactment of the story at St Luke's Primary School.

The story of Flying Grandma was reenacted in front of pupil’s at St Luke's Primary School in Heywood.

The book was officially launched at St Luke’s CE Primary School, Heywood, bringing together schools from across the borough and further afield to participate in a creative and heart-warming assembly and re-enactment of the book, led by Yvonne and watched by families from Ukraine.

Students from Meanwood Community Primary School, St Luke's CE Primary, and St Andrew’s C of E Primary School have also potted sunflower seeds and bluebells at Denehurst Park and Queen's Park, with help from Rochdale in Bloom and The Friends of Denehurst Park. Other schools involved include St Andrew's Primary School in Dearnley and High Bank in Liversedge.

The yellow colour of the national flower of Ukraine signifies friendship, while the bluebells that feature in all the Flying Grandma books are a symbol of humility and everlasting love.

Yvonne Weatherhead and Bailey.

Yvonne Weatherhead and Bailey, a pupil at St Luke’s Primary School, took the leading role in the reenactment.

Every child taking part in the project received a free copy of the book, which has been funded through the council’s Rochdale North Township committee through Spotland and Falinge ward councillors.

Books are available to students within the borough and all donations received goes towards helping children of Ukraine affected by the invasion with over £1,400 being raised so far.

A copy of the book can be purchased from Weatherhead Projects. Buy copies of the book online

Anyone can still donate to the Ukraine appeal, through Rochdale's Giving Back Charity. More on Giving Back

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