Run 26 – May 2024

A big couple of weeks for the team as we have 2 vans going out over May and June!

Run 26 was a solo run by Andy to Zaporizhzhia – his usual co-driver, Tony, wasn’t able to join him but did an excellent job on the pre run service!

Our huge thanks to all who donated aid for this run – in particular, members of Brass Band Aid for Ukraine, Dee Johnson and Brighton RSPCA via our good friend Iryna. As you may recall, we support a dog sanctuary in Zaporizhzhia – it was sadly recently hit by a rocket and so we put out an appeal for dog food and related items and received amazing support from you all for this.

As more and more refugees arrive in Zaporizhzhia to escape the now constant bombing, bedding and clothes were also a big part of the load.

Immediately prior to driving to Dover, Andy was conducting Brighton & Hove City Brass at the wedding of one of our members – and thank you so much Marlie for mentioning that I was going direct from there to Dover and generating impromptu donations towards fuel!

A fairly easy drive across France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany & Poland including no delays at Antwerp (for a change!), but being on his own, Andy did need to stop for a sleep before crossing the border.

Had it not been for problems with the Ukrainian Customs computer system, Andy would have cross both borders in a record time of 30 minutes! Sadly, the import number he had couldn’t be found on the system. Fortunately, a helpful supervisor on duty that day intervened and allowed him in based on the paper version – we always have that as well just in case.

Then it was time to start the long 16hr plus trip down to Zaporizhzhia – working against the clock at night due to the curfew. This did at least force a sleep break en-route.
Whilst travelling, Andy noticed a fault with the van which will need fixing when back home – this became an intermittent issue with what appeared to be exhaust fumes coming into the cab – this was apparent as his hands got blacker and blacker as the trip went on. His once brown polo shirt starting to look very grey instead.

Once curfew was lifted, Andy completed the trip and met Jimmy at checkpoint 1. First port of call was of course one of the coffee stalls near the storage site then time to unload!

Those who know Jimmy will have heard him mention his Preacher friend. We then went to meet him and collect a trailer that he has loaded the team – this is invaluable in enabling the transport of large amounts of water that Alina from the team has managed to procure on a regular basis.

Once again, due to the curfew, Andy couldn’t start the return journey until after 6am the next day – a 17hr slog across Ukraine, trying to make sure he hit the border area before the next curfew at midnight.

Being able to react to changing circumstances and new information locally in Zaporizhzhia is all down to the excellent relationships we have with the aid volunteers there. On discovering another animal sanctuary in desperate need, Jimmy took the right decision to split our load between both locations. With more on its way in Mike’s van, we have been able to help both locations!

An initial delivery was also made to the original rescue centre and since then, Mike has delivered a lot more – you will be able to learn more about that in the Run 27 page!

Thanks to Brighton RSPCA and others for the dog cages which are being unloaded in this short clip:

The speed at which the Himars team operate is impressive! Before Andy was back in the UK, aid for refugees had also already started to be distributed direct to the people who need it!

Andy also took some boxes from Mike Gray specifically for the 128 Brigade – once again, these are already with them!

It’s not just dogs btw, there are cats to consider as well! You can see some of them in this composite video taken by Alina covering both rescue centres. You can also see some of the rocket damage that led to our original requests for help.

Back on the road, Andy was across the border and taking advantage of a hot shower in one of the Polish rest areas. This was a godsend after such a long drive!

Another 6-7 hr journey across Poland and Andy met up with a dear friend in Freiberg from his Cologne days, Lena, where he had his first 8 hr sleep in a very long time! Then on to Weeze to meet up with Mike and Anna – and a very “gemütlich “evening in our good friend Elmer’s garage!

For Andy, the run was over as he said goodbye to Run 27, going in the opposite direction! A short run down to Dunkirk and an 0800 ferry back home.

Follow our Facebook page for updates from Mike!

Slava Ukraini!

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