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Judge Rinder meets Platero’s disabled grandparents in Ukraine

Judge Rinder hugging Oskana Platero's grandmother
Judge Rinder hugging Oskana Platero's grandmother Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

Judge Robert Rinder has shared the harrowing trip he made to Ukraine to reunite Oskana Platero’s disabled grandparents on Ukraine’s border.

The TV star partnered with Platero in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

On Friday he appeared on Lorraine where he spoke about the journey which saw the elderly couple were forced to flee their home country without their wheelchairs or any medication amidst the Russian invasion.

Rider said: 'Her grandfather has Parkinsons and her grandmother wasn't able to get out of bed. Disabled people have had to escape with nothing that they need, no wheelchair or medication.

'They had nothing when we arrived really, except each other, we gave them what we could - a wheelchair, they gave us tea. They said despite having nothing, they were grateful to us and the British public for absolutely everything.'

He continued:  'They are 85 and 95, they took a week to get over the border. They went through a trauma of being able to cross the border.

'That's the thing about what matters most, what this crisis brings home is hold your family close, hold democracy close. How great we can be at our very best.'

Platero spoke to the judge when war broke out in Ukraine telling her ex-dance partner and friend how concerned she was about her grandparents.

 'It was such a privilege to be able to give her something back. I think people watch strictly and think it's a load of hoo-hah when people say we'll be friends forever, it's telly! ,’ Rinder told Lorraine.

'But we really did become close. As soon as I saw what was happening in Ukraine, I got in touch and she was desperately worried about her grandparents.'

Painting a bleak picture of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, Rinder said: 'it's overwhelming, everyone I know that has been at the border and at the train stations there, it's really hard to communicate that as a safe Western city, unless you're standing there. 

'But it doesn't feel any different from Britain, it's a first world country. Surrounded by the vestiture's of a liberal city. Four weeks ago people were sitting happily in bars and clubs, taking completely for granted that they were safe forever.

'I was standing at this modern train station, it looked like the Pedalino line, not that much different than standing at Euston. In and out of Ukraine, where a week ago people would commute. There was this sea of humanity and by humanity we talk about women and kids. At the border people walking with just the clothes on their backs.' 

'But I saw, the British people, the spirit of Dunkirkery at that border, within hours. There was a big table, set up by the Sikh community giving out food.'

'British ex-servicemen who had driven 30 hours with equipment, ambulance drivers on their day off, policemen at the border giving out toys and whatever people needed.

'There was so much human decency there and at the reception centre. Also British charities giving out whatever aid they could. It represented the greatest of humanity.

'There's a sense of lighting a candle in the dark and it illuminates everything. There's so much light there. Every other reporter, despite all of the horror that we are. That get's to stand on that border will tell you the same thing. Of course you come away with the crushing feeling that we need to do more.'

In a separate interview with Talk Radio Rinder said Platero’s grandparents and aunt are currently in ‘one small room’ in a ‘chalet bungalow’ somewhere in Tuchow, Poland expecting a visit from their uncle and cousin.

'We managed to reach them this morning with a wheelchair & some medical supplies,’ the TV judge said.

'It really drives into sharp focus what happens when you need to leave your home suddenly, you're left without a wheelchair, without the basic needs, you know the basic things that are required for people's human dignity - going to the loo and so and so forth - and things you need if you are disabled.

'All of that had to be left, as they journey for seven days, sometimes without water, fleeing shelling to arrive here.' 

'Despite having nearly nothing.. they are 'grateful for everything'.'

Platero who has not able to make the expedition due to work commitments, praised Rinder on Instagram saying: 'I can't say thank you enough to my wonderful SCD partner @robrinder and his team for being there for my family and so many others. 

'You are a truly remarkable man and my love for you is limitless. The world needs more people like you.' 

It's estimated around two million Ukranian citizens have now fled their country in the wake of the Russian invasion.