Sisters re-united with family after 'hellish' journey out of Ukraine

Grace Porter, Danny-Lee Finch, Holly Delaney, nine, Mark Craven and Liz Delaney, five, outside Romford gym VIP HQ Essex.

Grace Porter, 10, Danny-Lee Finch, Holly Delaney, nine, Mark Craven and Liz Delaney, five, with donated items outside Romford gym VIP HQ Essex. - Credit: Supplied

Two young sisters have been reunited with their father and 10-year-old cousin after fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

Elizabeth Delaney, five, and nine-year-old Holly spent two days hiding in bomb shelters after the Russian invasion began at the end of last month.

The siblings have been welcomed by the Romford community, including their 10-year-old cousin Grace Porter.

Grace's mum Victoria, who works as a trainer at Romford gym VIP HQ Essex, described her nieces' "hellish" journey out of Ukraine.

She told this paper: "The whole experience has really scared them.

"They were so lucky to get out when they did - if it had been a week later it could have been far worse.

"When you see it on the telly, you can switch it off and get on with your day.

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"But when you're personally involved, it really brings it home how awful the situation is."

The sisters took a 20-hour train journey out of Ukraine, where they had been living with their mum Claire Delaney.

"They had no toilets, or food or water - it was hellish," Victoria said.

"My brother Jason travelled 29 hours from his home in Stapleford Abbotts to Germany to get them.

"He was willing to go into Ukraine if that's what it took to get them home safely."

Their mum Claire is still in Germany trying to organise a visa for her own mother to come to the UK.

Gym owner Danny-Lee Finch was so moved by Victoria's story that he decided to take action himself.

He said: "She was coming into work really distraught.

"Her brother couldn't get hold of his daughters, he didn't even know if they were alive."

Grace Porter, 10, Danny-Lee Finch, Holly Delaney, nine, Mark Craven and Liz Delaney, five.

Grace Porter, 10, Danny-Lee Finch, Holly Delaney, nine, Mark Craven and Liz Delaney, five. - Credit: Supplied

In response, the gym has raised over £2,000 to help the girls, buying them new bikes.

"They had to leave everything behind," he said.

"We just wanted to put a little smile on their faces."

His business partner Mark Craven is the commercial director at Forrest Foods distribution business, and through his contacts has raised £35,000 worth of goods, including toiletries and nappies.

Danny and Mark plan on driving the donations to the Poland-Ukraine border themselves at the end of this month.

"I've never been a rich man, but I feel like one because of our community here," Danny said.

"They have always come together, and gone above and beyond to help each other."

You can donate to the fundraiser here.