A FORMER Penhill resident who appealed for help in her homeland of what was Yugoslavia has repaid Swindon’s kindness by sending money to aid charities in the town more than 20 years later.
Lilliana Stajic, who now lives in Serbia, has written to the Adver after seeing news reports of ‘troubles’, including floods, an ‘earthquake’ and the creation of foodbanks.
She has sent a cheque worth £25 – or 3495.66 Serbian dinar – to Swindon Foodbank, as well as cheques of unknown amounts to other causes, such as Cats Protection and victims of the floods, as a thank you for the help the town’s residents gave her in the early 1990s.
Lilliana, then aged 45, and her mother Zivka turned to the Adver in November 1991 in a bid to help her compatriots in the Baltic country ravaged by civil war prior to its effective dissolution in 1992.
Now, 23 years later, Lilliana has not forgotten the people she left behind 2,200km away in Swindon, not least because of a man in the Walcot area who continued to write to her to ask if she would return the favour.
In the letter, Lilliana wrote: “Back in the 90s when NATO was bombing my country of birth, frequently your newspaper kindly lent me a space, a shoulder to cry on if you like, editing my plea for help or aid to refugees feeling their homes with nothing and the horrors of war.
“Each time you printed my story many kind Swindon people kept me busy on the phone, ringing with offers of help for 10 years running – quite unbelievable.
“During the 10 years of my dedication, one person from Walcot kept writing to me quite hurtful letters but besides kept asking me if I would do the same for English – how he or she put it – if they were in need of help.
“At that time my British people did not need, thank to God, humanitarian help of any sort, but my Serbian people did.”
Lilliana was born in Belgrade and moved to England in 1970 with her mother, a Serb, after Zivka split with Lilliana’s father, a Croat, some years earlier.
Back in her native Serbia, which became one of a number of new states when Yugoslavia crumbled, she admits she has kept an eye on Swindon.
She said: “I now live in Serbia, amongst people that I aided with you lovely Swindon people 2,200km away, but you are still close to my heart.
“Recently you’ve had one or two troubles, floods, earthquakes, creation of foodbanks.
“I’ve sent a cheque to aid flood victims.
“Through you I am sending a cheque to Swindon Foodbank, if I can ask you to pass on to the charity. Also I am sending a cheque to the Cats Protection in Swindon directly.
“Nato bombing happened quite a long time ago but I did not forget nice Swindon people, with big hearts and emotion. Thank you once again.”