English teacher Harry Richardson today started a new chapter in his working life after fleeing war-torn Ukraine, for a job at the JCB Academy.
Harry and his family were forced to shelter for days in a cold and dark university basement with around 90 other people near their home in Cherkasy as the invasion got under way before escaping to Moldova. JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford and his wife Carole were so touched by the Staffordshire man’s plight as his story unfolded on the regional BBC news, they vowed to help him.
And today, funded by JCB, Harry started a full-time job as a Specialist Learning Support Assistant for English at the JCB Academy in Rocester. He has also been given the use of a JCB car to allow him to get to and from work.
Today Harry said: “I am an English teacher and have been for so long, so for me this is not just about coming home physically, it’s coming back home intellectually too. I would like to thank Lord and Lady Bamford for their incredible kindness and their philanthropy towards me and my family. Having seen my story told on television, they didn’t have to do anything, but they did and I am very, very grateful to them. It really has renewed my faith in human kindness.”
Lord Bamford, who met Harry today at JCB’s World HQ in Rocester, said: “No-one could fail to be moved by what Harry and his family have gone through and I am pleased that JCB is able to help them get back on their feet in Staffordshire.”
Today wasn’t Harry’s first visit to JCB’s World HQ. More than 40 years ago he was working as an accountant for Leek-based Howsons, who were JCB’s auditors, and Harry visited JCB annually as part of the audit team.
The community in Leek has rallied around Harry and his Ukrainian-born wife Alina and her daughter and grandson, raising thousands of pounds to help them. Now Harry says things could not be better. “Since my return to Leek I have been showered in kindness in terms of good wishes and material things,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”