A WOMAN who fled her home in Ukraine to stay with her daughter says her heart is still in her home city. 

Vira Hirieva, 59, embarked on a five day journey from her home in Dnipro, Ukraine, to Portslade last week, making the impossible decision to leave her son and his family behind. 

The city, while not as badly affected by the conflict as others, has been hit by bombings, with the airport being destroyed just days ago.

Vira’s daughter Anna Seddon, 32, is a former journalist who married a Sussex man called Anthony Seddon, 40, nine years ago, the pair now live in Portslade with their two daughters.

When the conflict began, Anna and her brother Alexei wanted to make sure their mother was safe and when she got the opportunity to leave the country they encouraged her to take it. 

The Argus: Vira with a photo of her son Alexei and his family that she brought with herVira with a photo of her son Alexei and his family that she brought with her

Vira told The Argus, through Anna’s translation, that she wanted her son’s family to take the spot.

She said: “When my friend offered a spot in a car, I immediately offered it to my daughter-in-law and my grandson but they did not want to take it, they didn't want to separate from each other.”

Alexei, his wife Maria, and their son Alexander, are remaining in Dnipro in a bid to keep their family together. 

Due to being of conscription age, Alexei is unable to leave the country under current rules.

The Argus: Anthony, Anna, Vira, Alexei, Gabriella and MariaAnthony, Anna, Vira, Alexei, Gabriella and Maria

Anna said: “It’s very worrying to wake up every morning and just send messages to them to check if everything's been OK in the night. 

“Every morning, we contact them and see if they're OK, and I’m shaking waiting for a reply.”

Alexei works selling car parts and his company is now helping the army and volunteers by fixing their cars in order to keep aid coming through.

Anna said: “He's contributing to the cause in his own way and it’s why he feels needed. That's why he doesn't want to leave, I really, really respect that. 

“My mum is in a different position because she's older, and she's a primary school teacher.

“The thing is, war affects every single person in a different way. 

“Some people are very strong and they just keep going no matter what happens. 

“And some people just worry and it's not very good for their health, mentally as well. 

“If you sit under a siren for five hours, what is it going to do to you? 

“And for mum, I think personally, it was important to leave because she was very worried, she couldn't sleep. She's still struggling to sleep now.”

The Argus: Anna, Anthony and Vera on their wedding dayAnna, Anthony and Vera on their wedding day

After making the long journey to the Slovakian border, Vira travelled by train to the other side of the country to catch a flight to the UK.

Vira said: “It was difficult to get on the train on the other side of Slovakia, but the worst was actually seeing people in so much stress and some of them were injured as well.”

Vira spoke of the kindness she felt from Slovakian volunteers and when she eventually arrived in the UK, after being awake for 40 hours, she said she felt silly because she was taken to the front of the line and airport staff kept checking on her.

Anna hopes that Vira will be able to use her time here assisting refugees and continuing to have online calls with some of her pupils back home, in an attempt to distract her and retain some normalcy for the children.

The Argus: Anna, Vira and Anthony at their home in PortsladeAnna, Vira and Anthony at their home in Portslade

However, Vira wants to return home as soon as possible.

Anna said: “I'm trying to convince her that it's not a very rational decision. 

“As much as you feel like your heart is not here and it's there, and always going to be there, I think she's going to do more good here.”

Anna and her husband Anthony are now on a mission to deliver medical supplies to the parts of the country that need it the most, with Anna orchestrating drop-offs with people on the ground and Anthony driving once every three weeks over to Poland to deliver them. 

Through her own connections with people back home Anna is in a unique position of knowing exactly what is needed and where, and has received lists from GPs of the medical items that are most valuable right now. 

The Argus: Anna and Anthony at a football match Anna and Anthony at a football match

Anthony is carrying out a huge 1,569 mile sponsored run in order to continue to pay for these supplies, he’s already raised nearly £5,000 and is planning on continuing even when Ukraine is in the position to start rebuilding. 

Vira said she is incredibly proud of her daughter and son-in-law and what they are doing, she also said she is grateful to everyone who is doing their bit for her country.

Anthony sets off on his first trip today, Thursday, from Portsmouth where a van has been supplied, although he hopes to obtain a van more locally for future trips. 

To follow Anthony’s progress follow @run2ukraine on Instagram and to donate visit: www.gofundme.com/f/run2ukraine