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Ukrainian refugees in Ellon are helped to follow music dreams

By Kyle Ritchie

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The Ellon community has rallied round to ensure two Ukrainian refugees who settled in the town can follow their dreams of studying music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Talented piano players Sofia Shokhina (20) and Jing Huang (22) were studying at Lviv National Music Academy but were forced to flee Ukraine when Russia invaded in February.

After escaping the war the pair made their way across Europe to Scotland and were taken in by a host family in the Aberdeenshire town.

They have managed to keep their music practice going on the Steinway grand piano at Haddo House.

And despite the challenges they have encountered, their talents attracted the attention of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and both are set to start studying there after the summer.

When the Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society heard that the girls had been successful in gaining places there it decided to hold a fundraising concert to help them pay for their musical education.

The performance proved to be a success and raised £2000 to assist the pair for their upcoming new chapter in their lives.

Sofia Shokhina and and Jing Huang are presented with their donations by Lady Aberdeeen, Dr Roger Williams and Sheila Robertson.
Sofia Shokhina and and Jing Huang are presented with their donations by Lady Aberdeeen, Dr Roger Williams and Sheila Robertson.

Sheila Robertson, who is part of the Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society, said: "We wanted to not only welcome the girls to Haddo, but also to the musical community of Aberdeenshire.

"The concert – A Musical Welcome – which both Sofia and Jing performed in, was a great success.

"This was due mainly to the generosity of the choir, audience and the other performers – who gave their time willingly; the National Trust for Scotland who gave us the hall for nothing; the support of Haddo Arts; The David and June Gordon Memorial Trust; North East of Scotland Music School and Scotland Supporting Ukraine.

"As well as Sofia and Jing, our performers were Laura Smith, a pupil at North East of Scotland Music School, playing clarinet; Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society; Toto Coxe solo voice and George Davidson, Glenfiddich Cup fiddle winner 2015.

"The girls left Ukraine with nothing. We raised £2000, so Sofia and Jing were presented with £1000 each from the proceeds to help fund their studies."

The girls were presented with the donations at Haddo, when they were practising, and they enjoyed afternoon tea in the café.

Mrs Robertson said: "We hope very much that the friendship now established with the girls will continue into the future and hope they will come back again to perform on our wonderful Steinway piano in the hall.

"We are looking to continue with our support of their studies."

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