Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice's mum Sarah Ferguson has shared her humbling experience exclusively with HELLO! ahead of her royal family Christmas in Sandringham
Taking a moment at Christmas to spread some cheer is very important to Sarah, Duchess of York - and never more so than when accompanying a group of Ukrainian refugees on a visit to the UK.
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie's devoted mother - now also grandmother to their children, 15-month-old Sienna and August, 22 months - considers herself fortunate for everything she has in her life and was determined to make sure this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London would be unforgettable for her guests.
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Speaking exclusively to HELLO! while the refugees, who are a part of a talented choir for the blind from Kharkiv's Special Training Educational Complex, enjoyed the funfair, Sarah told us: "I'm very lucky to have them here because this is what I love to do.
"Every minute with them, I am so grateful for everything I have in my life. I'm thrilled they have had such a good time today. It touches my heart to be here with them – it makes me very emotional."
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Sarah had already met the 14 students, ranging in age from 12 to mid-30s, several times during trips to Eastern Europe to help those affected by war. Clearly close to the choir, she greeted each of them individually by name before giving them warm hugs.
Sarah accompanied a group of Ukrainian refugees on a visit to the UK
She was also touched to receive a special honour – a certificate and badge declaring her a "friend of the blind" from the National Institute for the Blind in Poland.
In addition, Sarah received traditional gifts from Ukraine, including decorative boxes, before the refugees launched into an impromptu rendition of God Save the King.
Visibly moved, Sarah told HELLO! that the day was especially poignant as the choir will be without their families this Christmas. "I really think the most important thing is family unity, forgiveness, love and kindness," she said. "On my cards this year, I have written about the need to communicate, compromise and have compassion.
The author headed to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London
"Keep forgiving people and never judge anyone. Everyone is entitled to be themselves on every level."
Family unity will be very much in evidence for Sarah and her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie, their respective husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank, and their own children over the next few weeks amid reports they will be spending the festive season at Sandringham with the royal family.
"I love a family Christmas," Sarah told us. "I'm so proud of my children as mothers, I really spoil them every day. When it comes to gifts for the grandchildren, I often buy them toys that I like myself. When my girls were growing up, I used to get them Barbies and we would spend hours playing with them. At the moment, August is into trucks and train sets."
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