A YOGA instructor who has settled in Prestatyn after escaping a war-torn Ukraine has shared her incredible story.

Tania Dzhulai, who teaches yoga in Prestatyn and Dyserth and also runs a yoga and good habits online club, has husband Slava and sons Kolia, aged 10, and Vova 15. Kolia and Vova attend Bodnant Community school and Prestatyn High School.

She has been supported by her 'fairy godmother' Jules Peters, who is married to Mike Peters of The Alarm, as well as other kind families.

Tania has shared her story to give an insight into her other life - "life before the war" and to detail how life has changed for her family.

She said she is grateful to Britain and Wales for the chance to "live our lives normally".

Tania said: "We are one example, but there are thousands of us.

"In February 2022, we lived in Kyiv on the 18th floor in a skyscraper. I worked remotely as an HR business partner in an international IT company and I developed my blog as a coach of good habits. On February 23, my husband and younger son rode a sledge outside, my mom baked a pie. That's it... we had a completely normal evening at home. 

"At night I woke up at 4.50am and five minutes later, I heard the first explosion. After 10 minutes, we realised that day had come and started packing.

"Only then did Putin make a speech about his special operation. I started calling all my friends and after two hours, we were already on our way. All exit roads to western Ukraine were blocked, there was panic everywhere. We stood in a traffic jam for several hours and turned in the other direction. 

"We spent the first two days at my mother's house - 200km from Kyiv. At night I cried all the time and read the news. Everyone sat on the phone around the clock, waiting for news that it was all over. None of us could believe that this was happening to us in the 21st century."

The next day, the family travelled to Western Ukraine. 

"We lived there, in different places, for two months," Tania said.

"We took with us only the most necessary things and Kolia really missed his collection of soft toys. 

Rhyl Journal: Kolya sleeps with Markiyan (a monkey), a toy he was given as a gift in their temporary homeKolya sleeps with Markiyan (a monkey), a toy he was given as a gift in their temporary home (Image: Tania Dzhulai)
"A programme 'Homes for Ukrainians' opened in Britain, and we applied for it because 'we wanted to give our children a safe life and the opportunity to go to school'. That was my post. I received a message from Tracey Dawson - Tracey's message was one of the many different messages I received. 

"I chose our host family intuitively. We never even called."

Tania said over the first few months, queues at the border were "terrible". 

She said: "No one could predict how long they would have to wait on the bus. Therefore, we decided to cross the border on foot. It was very difficult for us, because we did not know when we would be able to see our relatives again. 

"We were incredibly lucky with our first British family. Tracey, her husband Andrew and her family helped much more than we could have imagined."

Talking about how life has changed whilst living in the UK, Tania said: "I love baking cakes. This is a way for me to express my love and gratitude. I baked the famous Napoleon cake, but it turned out to be a little salty - all because I didn’t know that in Britain they sell not ordinary butter, but salted butter.

"I made both the base and the salted butter cream but since all British people are very polite, everyone said that the cake was delicious.

"We lived in Llanasa, Flintshire, for two months and I will remember this experience with the warmest memories for the rest of my life.

Rhyl Journal: Tania certified as a yoga teacher in IndiaTania certified as a yoga teacher in India (Image: Tania Dzhulai)
"We were lucky because while we were living in Llanasa, we met another of our British family. The Jones family helped us move and set up our lives in Prestatyn. 

"Selwyn Jones helped me to bring our dog to the UK. We went together to Birmingham, because I was terribly afraid to drive so far in a left-hand drive car."

Tania quit her remote job in Ukraine and went to work at a school as a teaching assistant to help 24 Ukrainian children adapt.

She said: "The teacher in Prestatyn High School, Trayza Williams, is the fairy who helped my children get into schools and adapt quickly. She helped a lot of Ukrainian children here.

Rhyl Journal: Tania with her sons and her mum. It was her first photo with Tania and the boys in Prestatyn in August 2022Tania with her sons and her mum. It was her first photo with Tania and the boys in Prestatyn in August 2022 (Image: Tania Dzhulai)
"Vova received the headteacher's award. I was filming a video and my hands were shaking and tears were flowing. I could not accept that maternal joy for my son in a new country."

Last year, Tania gathered the courage and returned to her "dream" before the war.

"I quit school in the summer of 2023 and went to India for a month to study," she said. 

"I certified as a yoga teacher in India and had my first class the next day after I returned from India, near our beach in Prestatyn."

Rhyl Journal: Tania with Jules Peters and Mike Peters and with her yoga studentsTania with Jules Peters and Mike Peters and with her yoga students (Image: Tania Dzhulai)
Jules has helped Tania find yoga students in Dyserth. 

Tania said: "By sharing my story, I wanted to highlight all the incredible people. Thanks to them, the life of Ukrainians in Britain continues.

"We can help our homeland and believe in our victory."