Scots hairdresser puts honeymoon on hold to help refugees fleeing Ukraine war


A hairdresser has put her honeymoon on hold after flying to Germany to collect a Ukrainian mum and daughter and bring them “home” to Scotland.

Big-hearted Holly Ehret and Andy Brown are due to wed next Monday.

They were among the first in Scotland to match as sponsors for Ukrainian refugees – and hoped Valentina Lukianenko, 41, and Anna, 11, would have been here a month ago.

But the situation dragged on and a visa was only issued days ago.

Holly, 48, was determined that Valentina and Anna would not get stuck in yet more red tape in Berlin and she was concerned because neither has flown before.

So she jumped on a plane and picked them up before flying them back to the home they will share in Dollar, Clackmannanshire.

Former model Holly, originally from Colorado, said: “The situation has been beyond stressful, as the visa application was meant to be a few days but rumbled on for more than a month.

“Basically, Valentina’s visa was ok but for some crazy reason, Anna’s just failed to come in for ages.

“When the visa finally came in, I think we all agreed that we would only believe it was real when Valentina and Anna are actually at home in Dollar.

“I simply didn’t trust that they wouldn’t end up getting held up by hassle at the airport, so it seemed the best idea was to get out there and meet them in Germany.”

Holly is delighted that her nuptials with Andy, 55, are still able to go ahead but says the honeymoon to the Outer Hebrides can wait.

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She said: “The wedding is obviously a big thing for us but, to be honest, all our energy has been focused on sorting out this situation with Valentina and Anna.

Scottish hairdresser Holly Ehret who traveled to Berlin to bring back Ukrainian refugee Valentina and her daughter Anna to her home in Dollar
Scottish hairdresser Holly Ehret who traveled to Berlin to bring back Ukrainian refugee Valentina and her daughter Anna to her home in Dollar

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“We didn’t want to just clear off while they are trying to settle into a new home in a new country.

“We have a motorhome and we can defer the honeymoon until they are properly settled in – so that’s what we have decided to do.”

Holly said the initial meeting with the pair was “magical”.

They remain highly stressed – Valentina’s husband and 20-year-old son are fighting the Russians – but the relief in getting out of Germany was immense.

Holly said: “We have been in constant contact and the stress on them both has been unbearable. They were pushed to the point of thinking they would have to give up on coming to Scotland.

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“But as soon as I saw them, we had a big hug and there were a few tears. We were all in bits and just felt relieved that the order will soon be over.

“They will, of course, still have to deal with the ongoing trauma of what is going on in Ukraine and all the strain with their family. But the first priority is to get them to a place that is secure and safe.”

Holly was a founding member of the Dollar Refugee Hosting Group, which involves more than 12 local people hoping to host more than 20 people from Ukraine.

She added: “There can be no justification for the delays and my heart goes out to all the Ukrainian families who have been treated like this by the UK Home Office.

“We should get every Ukrainian who applies to the UK immediately, as long as the hosts are vetted, and sort out the paperwork later.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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