By James Reid
A Ukrainian refugee from Redditch will live out a dream by singing alongside former Eurovision star and Liverpool pop sensation Sonia.
Tatiana Volikova, 42, arrived in the UK last year alongside her two children, Daniil, 18, and Zlata, 7, and was forced to abandon her vocal coaching business as a result.
But the singer has been given the chance to take the stage once more thanks to a special project which has brought the National Lottery funded European Youth Music Refugee Choir (EYMRC) together with Sonia for a special rendition of her 1989 UK No.1 hit You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You.
Following rehearsals at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool a week ago, Tatiana and the choir performed the song with Sonia at The National Lottery funded Everyman Theatre on the aptly named Hope Street in Liverpool.
Over 50 refugees and asylum seekers from countries including Ukraine and Afghanistan make up the choir, with Volikova singing a special second verse in Ukrainian.
And she said: “I am really enjoying it and it is a very big honour for me to stand on the stage with someone so famous in Liverpool and the UK.
“It’s a great experience and I am very lucky.
“It’s a new experience for me being amongst such different people. I used to sing in a choir, but I didn’t see so many different faces around me so it’s another great experience.
“For the last year I didn’t sing on a stage, so I lost my skills. When you don’t do something for a long period you are afraid to start again.
“Sonia is very supportive, and I feel much more comfortable with her on stage. I am like a fish in water now.
“I was a vocal coach, digging deep into signing techniques and I am hoping that I will find some people here who are interested in my experience. The best things that happened in my life were because of music.”
The National Lottery is one of the biggest supporters of music and culture in Liverpool with over £330m invested in 3,600 arts and heritage projects to date. Liverpool’s historic hosting of Eurovision sees The National Lottery make a further multi-million-pound contribution to arts, heritage and community across the city.
Volikova spent two months in Poland before making her way to the UK, leaving the father of her children and many other friends and relatives behind.
But she has been welcomed in by the local community and is hoping to set up a small business working as a vocal coach having found her feet on British shores.
“A year ago, when I decided to leave Ukraine, my first country was Poland,” she explained.
“My two children and I went there and we were lucky to find a family on our way that gave us a home for two months while we were waiting for documents to get to Britain.
“I was lucky that everything ended happily. We have a very good house and hosts that gave us shelter. They are a very nice family. They are great people and I really appreciate what they do for us.
“Sometimes it is like I am at home, and then I look round at different styles of architecture or styles of living and I am not at home but I am in a nice place. I have my children with me, so I have to be strong.
“I can’t predict my next day so that’s why I try not to have any expectations. I just live each day as it comes.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30 million a week for arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport, and voluntary projects across the UK; see the difference it’s making near you at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk