Run 25 – March 2024

Run 25 was another excellent run with both vans involved! Prior to the run, there was a lot of activity at both ends of the country! Thanks to Michael Kobarenko, Mike had a lot of aid donated by Ukrainians In North Lincolnshire ,which was to be delivered to a specific charity in Zaporizhzhia, together with more firefighters gear from Michael and local donated aid from our regular donors in the Winterton area. Here’s some of that aid being collected and loaded onto Mike’s van:

We were also able to arrange to take some Welding gear from Rory Haddock in Cheshire and a huge camouflage net and Starlink system from Anne-Marie Hamill – all of this needed collecting so Mike was extremely busy in the run up!

He also needed to do some work on the van – the Ukrainian roads take their toll on the vehicles and new bearings were needed. Huge thanks to Steven Jackson at Speedway Garage for their help in pressing out the old bearings and getting the new ones in.

In the South, Andy was working with Iryna from Stand for Ukraine – Brighton & Hove which included a visit to meet Mike Bowden, the chair of Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership who provided a lot of wipes and also collected some dressings from another donor for us.

Another good friend of our contact Jimmy in Zaporizhzhia, Mike Kilford Gray, sent down a lot of great aid which went onto Andy’s van as well:

Once again, we are grateful to Brighton RSPCA for the donation of dog food and dog cages.

Then the run could start! Two vans: one going via Harwich, the other via Dover so 2 sets of in run videos!

First up, the teams arrive at their respective ports of departure:

After meeting up at Guy & Liza’s in Weeze, it was onwards together to the Poland Ukraine Border. This was another great 1hr crossing time for us – if the paperwork is right, it can be quick!

The original plan was to drop Tony off in Odessa, where he was hoping to meet some local charities, then drive on to Zaporizhzhia the following day. However, things don’t always go as planned! Here’s Mike to tell you about this part of the trip!

So, instead of a night in a bed, it was a quick drop off of Tony then straight on to meet Jimmy and the team at Checkpoint 1. We were back on schedule and arrived there at exactly the agreed time!

Then the simple matter of unloading it all!

Thanks to Michael Kobarenko, Mike presented one of the team with an England shirt!

As always, there are many people to thank who provided aid and/or funding for this run:

Mike Kilford Gray also kindly sent new plate holders over for Jimmy’s team – an essential part of their protection whilst moving around the front line areas:

After a good sleep, it was time for the run to split into two again. Andy left for Odessa to meet up with Tony again:

Our thanks to Tony for paying for the accommodation in Odessa – the view from our balcony was of the wonderful Opera House:

Meanwhile, back in Zaporizhzhia, Mike delivered the aid on behalf of the North Lincs folks:

Jimmy and the team had also already started to distribute what we had brought over!:

The dog rescue centre that we support have also collected a number of items we bought with us: Dog food & Dog cages (from Brighton RSPCA) and medical items from a number of donors. Thanks to Jimmy for these pictures as always!

Some food and meds also went to a local resident in need:

One of the bikes has gone to a young refugee – he has never ridden one before!:

On run 24, we met the amazing “Pan”, a very senior Commander in the region – you may recall he presented Mike & Andy with 128 Brigade Volunteer patches. On this run Andy took a 3 Para Flag which Mike & Jimmy kindly presented to him on his behalf:

A number of items were delivered directly to 128 Brigade including the wipes (from Stand for Ukraine – Brighton & Hove) and from Anne-Marie Hamill:

The team also took Mike around the area to see the results of the most recent rocket attacks, including the dam.

Andy & Tony were by this time on their way home:

And for them, the trip was then over – here’s Andy’s final run update from on board the ferry:

Mike moved on to Dnipro to deliver and collect from our friend there then on to Brovary. He was hoping to follow up a lead regarding a potential sponsorship in the UK for a family in need. Let us hope we are able to help someone who really needs it and thanks so much to Gillian Greenfield for entrusting Mike to set the wheels in motion. It’s not just about taking the aid out. The return journeys can be just as important as long as things come together.

From there, he started the journey home, calling in with our friend Roman in Lviv along the way. A reasonable 2 1/2 hour border crossing time. During this part of the drive, his van started to lose power and emitted a lot of black smoke! He nursed it back to our friend Elmer in Weeze where he was able to get underneath and investigate.

As a follow up from the previous video. The journey back across Poland and Germany became more challenging as it progressed especially as Mike was battling a strong headwind all of the way and the power output of the van continued to decline. Unbelievably the price of the replacement pipe is somewhat unreal here in Germany at a stonking €78.00. I have to say I was expecting maybe €20. I’m just glad I’m able to do the work thus keeping the cost as low as is possible.

Tomorrow Mike will collect the part and fit it ready for the final part of the trip back to Blighty. Sadly though this extra expense all adds to our running costs and so please help us to continue our work by donating however much you are able to as without your financial donations we are unable to continue our work. Please click here for details of how you can help.

From Mike: Following my post yesterday I can happily announce that the parts were collected this morning and now the van is running nicely again. A massive thank you to those who pledged help towards this extra cost and of course to Guy for acting as my personal taxi service. Not so much thanks though to him for taking this candid picture of me under the van. All I can say is I’m glad it’s not a video as the soundtrack wouldn’t be suitable for publication🙈. The silver beast lives to fight another day.

Meanwhile, Jimmy’s team continue to deliver the aid we brought him despite being temporarily without wheels! This is a huge effort by Jimmy and his team – some of you will recognise your donated aid in these photographs:

It is important to us that we can demonstrate where your aid goes – this is not always possible, especially in front line areas, but Jimmy and the team continue to send us pictures and videos! (Sometimes after the event for security reasons). The gallery below shows items that came with us on Run 25:

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