A SOUTH East Cornwall town will twin with a town in Ukraine as the hand of friendship reaches out across borders. 

When Liskeard joins with the town of Kopychyntsi later this month it will become one of just a handful of places in the UK to have created a formal twinning link. 

It follows months of video meetings between the mayors of the two places and builds on the sense of solidarity and goodwill that has grown in South East Cornwall as war continues in Ukraine. 

During a get together on Sunday at Liskeard Public Hall for Ukrainian people living in the area, mayor of Kopychyntsi Bogdan Kelichavyi came on by Zoom. He gave people an update on the situation in his country, and spoke of his happiness about the relationship being forged with Cornwall. 

Earlier this year, he had heard about the work Liskeard had been doing in rebuilding its connection with Quimperle in France,  and had reached out to local mayor Simon Cassidy. 

Extensive meetings have taken place since between the two to discuss how links might be established between local organisations, the farming community and schools. 

The town of Kopychyntsi lies to the south east of the city of Lviv, and in many ways has much in common with Liskeard. It has a population of similar size, and is predominantly surrounded by farming communities.  

Whilst the town has escaped much of the brunt of the war in Ukraine, many of the town’s citizens have fought and died in the conflict. Children in the schools are struggling to learn English as their teachers have been sent to the front to fight. Kopychyntsi’s mayor believes that one benefit of establishing links with Liskeard will be in giving their youngsters the chance to speak English - perhaps by the setting up of penpal schemes and Zoom calls. 

Liskeard Town Council members voted unanimously in favour of the twinning earlier this month, the paperwork has now been signed and sent on to Ukraine, where the council in Kopychyntsi is set to ratify the agreement in mid-December. 

Mayor of Liskeard Simon Cassidy said: “We were honoured to be approached by the mayor of Kopychyntsi and over the last few months we have built up a good relationship which has enabled me to better understand the difficulties the people of Ukraine currently face. 

“At the same time, it’s allowed me to see a town, not that dissimilar to our own, reaching out with a hand of peace and friendship - we can learn a lot from each other and it gives the children of both our towns the opportunity to engage with people they wouldn’t otherwise be able to engage with.” 

Sunday’s event was a chance to celebrate the new twinning project but was also in some ways heartbreaking for the Ukrainians currently living in South East Cornwall, who may feel some guilt about having left their country, said Cllr Cassidy. 

“Bogdan Kelichavyi thanked the people of Liskeard for supporting his fellow citizens at this difficult time. What brought it home to all of us was when he said that there hadn’t been any air raids that day, which was rare, and told us that later he would be going to the funeral of a soldier from his town who had been killed in action. 

“The Cornish residents from Ukraine were given the opportunity to talk to him – everyone introduced themselves and told him where they were from. He passed on Christmas wishes to those Ukrainians living here in Cornwall, and he talked about how excited they were about twinning with Liskeard.” 

The newly-reinstated twinning with Quimperle in France is going from strength to strength, said Cllr Cassidy, and bodes well for a positive future for the link with Ukraine. 

“We are already starting to see the benefits for our young people as a result of that relationship being rekindled. Twinning with Kopychyntsi further increases the opportunities available for all ages across our communities to engage with each other.”