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Community & Business

29 July, 2023

A glimpse of hope for Ukrainian choir

A MISSION to support young choir students in Ukraine during some of its most devastating times has led to lifelong friendships for Mareeba man Tim Lovell.


Mareeba man Tim Lovell with the Colour Music Children’s Choir in Ukraine.
Mareeba man Tim Lovell with the Colour Music Children’s Choir in Ukraine.

Travelling to the city of Dnipro to offer humanitarian aid to the Colour Music Children’s Choir, Tim was able to help several families flee the country whilst fostering their passion for singing. 

Learning of the choir during Covid lockdown, he fell in love with their singing and heartfelt songs and knew he had to support them in any way he could. 

“I came across this group and there was just something different about them and it just really hit me,” he said. 

“I contacted them straight away and they got back to me straight away and that’s when I found out they were from Ukraine and the school wasn’t managing with Covid and then when Covid ended, the war broke out.”

When landing in Dnipro for the first time, Tim was shocked at how “normal” the city felt. There was peace and people appeared happy. 

It wasn’t until nighttime he felt the full extent of the war, as missiles flew through the city and into buildings. 

His host family, Iryna Samoilenko and her children Lera and Roman, took Tim in for majority of his stay, giving up a room and determined to help him in any way they could.

“Even though I was there to help them, all they wanted to do was help me,” he said. 

“I had originally booked accommodation but when they heard I was coming they wanted me to stay with them, so I had to cancel the motel. I tried to do lots to help them but all they wanted to do was support me instead. 

“I paid for them to go on a trip to Germany to see their family and I helped a few families travel to Poland and Germany during the war and all they wanted to do was repay me.”

During Tim’s time at the music school, he became friends with many of the young choir members and supported them during their studies. 

One young girl who stood out the most to him was his “little angel”, Zlata Makarova. 

“Her (singing) was absolutely beautiful and I had seen her videos of her singing before I arrived in Ukraine,” he said. 

“When I was at events and concerts she would come and sit with me and follow me around but she couldn’t speak English, so her brother and friends had to translate for her.

“I sent all my family and friends messages saying ‘I think I’ve got a little angel that comes and sits beside me’ because that’s how it felt having her around and then on the last concert (before I came home), she came over to me with a gift.

“She handed me a little angel that she had made herself and she had no idea that I had been telling people she was my little angel and her brother taught her to say in English ‘this is so you remember me’.”

Zlata’s angel is often pinned to Tim’s shirt now so he will never forget the friendship they formed throughout his time with the choir. 

Tim met with and supported many of the young singers, with his goal of making them feel less alone in times of struggle achieved easily. 

Helping them in any way they needed, Tim encourages anyone wanting to help to donate to the Ukrainian Army that continue to protect the country as the war rages on at www.ukrainecrisisappeal.org. 

Though regardless of the terrors the children of Colour Music face, Tim could see nothing but resilience and compassion in them and the strength to continue sharing their love for music through even the darkest moments.

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