Olympic gymnastics judge escapes war in Ukraine to start new life and job in Milton Keynes

An Olympic gymnastics judge who has escaped war in Ukraine is now living and working in Milton Keynes after taking a job with insidethegames.biz.

By Olga Norford
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 1:06 pm

Lidia Vynogradna was forced to leave her home in Kyiv following Russia’s invasion, alongside her mother and five-year-old daughter.

They are now living in Newport Pagnell in a house owned by a retired couple, which was found under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Lidia is working as a senior business development manager at insidethegames.biz, the world’s leading source of news on the Olympic Movement.

Pictured from left, insidethegames.biz managing director Sarah Bowron, Ben Everitt, Lidia Vynogradna and insidethegames.biz editor Duncan Mackay

She has already received a visit at the company’s Midsummer Boulevard office from MK North MP Ben Everitt, who provided assistance for her move to England.

Lidia has served as a rhythmic gymnastics judge at events including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and World Championships.

She had a senior job in the airport duty free sector before the Russian invasion. She applied for the insidethegames.biz job after seeing it advertised on the website.

When leaving Ukraine, the family first drove to Budapest before flying to Paris.

They then had to wait for several weeks to come to Britain as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Said Lidia: "I could never imagine that I would receive so much help from complete strangers.

"To understand that there are people out there who care about you even if they don’t know you very well.

"My daughter is going to school on Tuesday. I am in the office since Monday - it’s been a busy week, but everything is good.

"But it's very challenging because my husband is in Ukraine so it is difficult to have a happy life knowing he is in danger and that we don’t know what happens with our country. So that is also a bit of a mental challenge.

"I have been to this war zone I know what it looks like there.

"We stayed in Kyiv for 40 days after the invasion began.

"My daughter became very stressed because she had to spend that time basically in one room.

“My mum, my daughter and I were sleeping all together in one room of my neighbour's house because they had an underground garage and we could go there when there were Russian airstrikes.

"So we didn’t sleep in our home. When we got out of Ukraine it was the first time I wore pyjamas in 40 days because we were just asleep in tracksuits.

"When you go out in the streets and you hear all the explosions - nobody can understand it until you are inside it.

"After a month you stop being scared. Because it’s just continuous."

Sarah Bowron, managing director of insidethegames.biz, said: “None of us can imagine what it has been like for Lidia and her family in Ukraine.

“We are delighted to have Lidia working with us after her long journey from Kyiv and we are looking forward to warmly welcoming her into the team.”

MP Ben Everitt added: “It was wonderful to meet Lidia and hear how insidethegames had supported her including finding somewhere to live through the Homes For Ukraine scheme.

“I’m so proud of the community we have here in Milton Keynes for the love they are showing to refugees from providing donations to offering up their homes.”