Cambridgeshire girl, 4, wins Thomas and Friends award after befriending Ukrainian refugee

Mum’s pride as ‘kind’ and ‘happy little girl,’ Grace, wins children’s TV show’s friendship award.

By Adam Barker
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 5:00 am

A four-year-old girl from Cambridgeshire has won an award after befriending a Ukrainian refugee at her school.

Grace Prior, from March, was presented with the ‘Friendship Award’ at the Thomas and Friends International Friendship Day Awards at the Soho Hotel, in London.

Grace and four other children from across the country saw off 600 other entrants in what was the first ever International Friendship Day Awards hosted by the popular children’s television show.

Grace Prior, 4, from March, with her award.

"I’m so proud of her,” Grace’s mum, Beth Prior, 29, said. “She’s such a kind and happy little girl, so to see it recognised by someone else is such a nice feeling for any parent.

"To see other people value her and the little things, which for her are just so normal to do, is lovely.”

Grace won the award for her relationship with Ukrainian refugee, Amelia, who moved to this country in April this year as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

"Amelia didn’t speak any English,” Beth said. “They bonded despite the fact that they can’t communicate.

Grace Prior, 4, being presented her friendship award by JLS singer Aston Merrygold.

“Grace can say a few things in Ukrainian now, which she’s picked up from Amelia.

"It was so nice to spend the day being proud of her.”

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Grace, who recently welcomed her six-month-old sister into the world, was presented with the award by JLS frontman Aston Merrygold, who was born in Peterborough.

Grace receiving her award at the Soho Hotel, London

“I feel very privileged to have been able to host the inaugural Thomas and Friends International Friendship Day Awards and to meet and give some of these very special children their trophies,” Aston, speaking at the event on July 16, said.

"Hearing their stories today has made it feel very special because all these children have done amazing things of their own accord.”

A Thomas and Friends spokesperson added: “Thomas and Friends as a brand is all about friendship. Every year for International Friendship Day we’ve tried to do something that gives back to children and recognises the things they do throughout the year.

“We wanted to celebrate the stories of friendship which we knew were out there – shining a spotlight and celebrating them.”