A GROUP of Leicestershire military veterans have travelled 1,500 miles in two days to drop off 1,800kg of aid to the people of war-torn Ukraine.
The group of four, led by Leicestershire County Councillor Craig Smith (far right), travelled to the Poland/Ukraine border, and made the mammoth drop off yesterday after two days of intense travelling.
Councillor Smith, who is a former RAF serviceman, was joined on his 1,500 mile journey, by fellow veterans Rob Clarke, Paul Botterill and Harry Kenyon, with supplies collected by the people of Coalville – the area Cllr Smith represents.
“We were killed with kindness – just absolutely overwhelmed with generosity,” Mr Smith told the Leicester Times.
“Obviously as ex-servicemen ourselves, that soldier mentality just kicked in, and we just wanted to do whatever we could to help,” he added.
“We’re all quite practical guys, so we thought, we not just drive out there and get the job done.
“It was all quite spontaneous really. I used my platform as a Cllr to find out what was needed, and that instinct just kicked in. Before we knew it, we were on our way out there in two 3-and-a-half tonne vans.”
The essential supplies delivered by Cllr Smith and his team, were collected at Coalville’s Marlene Reid Centre, and included bandages, batteries, dry foods and sanitary items.
The vans were supplied free of charge by a local business, and money was donated for the petrol needed to make the journey.
“Huge congratulations to everyone involved on the logistics side – an inspirational team effort, businesses, organisations and volunteers all working together for the greater good,” said Cllr Smith commenting on the collective effort.
“Thank you Coalville, your generosity has helped so many people who desperately need your help,” he added.
Over three million Ukrainians have fled their homes so far, as Vladimir Putin’s troops continue to indiscriminately bomb cities.
More than 100,000 Britons have now registered to open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country.
“Coming back from the border, I’ve never seen so many cars – families lining up to get out of Ukraine and their vehicles packed to the roofs with as much stuff as they can get in there,” revealed Cllr Smith.
“They’ve literally had to pack up everything they can and leave their homes. And these are the lucky ones,” he added.
“It was just heart-wrenching to see.”
By Louise Steel