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News > Archives > QCPS Pupil Learns of her Ukrainian Refugee Heritage

QCPS Pupil Learns of her Ukrainian Refugee Heritage

11 May 2022
Written by Emilie Sitlani
Saffron Gore, in Reception and her Great, Great Aunt Nora Slavouski (OQ 1930s)
Saffron Gore, in Reception and her Great, Great Aunt Nora Slavouski (OQ 1930s)

Saffron Gore, who is currently in Reception at Queen’s College Preparatory School, has been fascinated to learn that her Great Grandmother and two Great, Great Aunts - whose parents were refugees from Ukraine - all studied at Queen’s College (or ‘Big Queens’ as our Prep pupils call the College) in the 1920s and 1930s.

Saffron’s Great, Great Grandparents, Volodya and Marie Slavouski were married in Kyiv in 1907 and lived in the city of Yekatarinoslav, now called Dnipro.   In order to escape the ongoing threat of pogroms against the Jews, they managed to leave Ukraine shortly afterwards. Not much is known about the nature of their journey except that, for safety, Marie had to disguise herself as a boy. They headed first for Berlin, then to Paris and finally moved to London around the time of the start of the First World War in 1914. They had three daughters; Saffron’s Great Grandmother, Victoria Slavouski (born in 1912) and her two sisters Jacqueline Annette Slavouski (born in 1910 and known as Lucie) and Nora Beatrice Slavouski (born 1918).  According to the Census of 1921, the family settled in London,  where Volodya set up his own Furriers business in Edmund Place in the City of London. Clearly believers in the importance of girls receiving a proper education, Volodya and Marie sent all three of their daughters to study at Queen’s College, London on Harley Street.

We’ve had a look in our College Archives and have found a few references to the Slavouski sisters. Saffron’s Great Grandmother, Victoria, appears in our College Magazine in 1925 when her classmates express their sadness that she’d left Queen’s at the end of II Juniors.  We also discovered several references to Saffron’s Great Great Aunt, Nora Slavouski.  Nora is mentioned in the College magazine in 1931 as the pianist in the orchestra and was also listed on the netball team in July 1935. (Interestingly, her netball teammates included the future aviator Diana Barnato and Stephanie Tyacke, who became Stephanie Fierz, Principal of Queen's from 1964-83.) We love the comment about Nora’s netball prowess; “a useful member of the team who marks well and makes full use of her spring, but who needs more staying power.”

It also transpires that Saffron isn’t the Slavouski sisters’ only descendant to have followed in their footsteps by studying at Queen’s. Jacqueline Slavouski’s daughter, Diana Steen, was also a pupil at the College, and more recently Diana’s Great Niece Jemima Steen attended Queen’s, leaving in the Class of 2020 (and now a student at Edinburgh University). Many thanks to Saffron and her father, Daniel, for sharing this remarkable story with us.


Saffron Gore, Nora’s Great Great Niece, in her QCPS uniform in 2022 and Nora Slavouski, a pupil at Queen’s in the 1930s

Extract from Queen’s College Magazine of 1935

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