The billionaire businessman behind Phones4U is offering to put up a family of Ukrainian refugees on the estate of his £50m stately home.
John Caudwell, whose chain was one of the first iconic high street brands selling mobile phones, says he wants to help the victims of the dreadful war and is “heartbroken” over their fate.
And the 69-year-old’s determination has been strengthened by the experience suffered by his own girlfriend, reports the Mirror.
John – who is one of the country’s biggest philanthropists as well as one of the biggest taxpayers – lives at Broughton Hall, Staffordshire, with his cyclist Modesta Vzesniauskaite, 39, and their son William.
Modesta grew up in Lithuania and remembers the “fear and trauma” that occurred after the Soviet Union attempted to occupy her country in 1991. At least 13 people were killed and more than 140 were injured in that invasion.
She told Hello! magazine: “I know from experience the fear and trauma that the children and families in Ukraine are going through.
"It's a feeling of terror I will never forget.
“On Friday, 11 January, 1991, when I was eight years old, an alarm went off at school and a teacher said, 'Run home quickly! The Russians are coming to occupy Lithuania’.
“I was terrified and ran so fast. For three days my family sat in the house feeling terrified.
“The Russian soldiers passed through my city to take the capital Vilnius and a lot of people were killed. But thank God that two days later Lithuania found freedom.”
Modesta was actually in Russia, visiting her father, when Ukraine was invaded last month, and when she got home to the UK she told John they had to help some of the women and children who’d been forced to flee the warzone.
John told the magazine: “I feel heartbroken for the people whose lives have been destroyed.
“Picture yourself in that situation. You've got no home, and the fear of death and being murdered on the street is constant. It's beyond comprehension.”
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Separately, in a tweet, John said: “I’d like to host a Ukrainian family to live in the grounds of my estate.
“As eastern Europe struggles to address the worsening crisis, I urge wealthy individuals to step up and offer shelter in their homes.
“They'll have their own, two-bedroom apartment here, with all utilities and food as long as they need it.
“I want to help and suspect the experience will be humbling and deeply enriching for me as well.”
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