At the start of the war in Ukraine, Winnens made a commitment to donate a portion of our monthly profits towards the war effort in Ukraine in support of the Ukrainian people.

This is particularly important to Talitha and myself as our grandfather on our mother’s side came from a small town near Lviv called Komarno.

We promised more detail of our donations, so I’d like to take a moment to explain what we have done since March this year to date.

(I have changed the names of some of those involved as they’d prefer to remain anonymous)

Our original plan was to just donate every month through the DEC but after a conversation with Ivan, a Ukrainian friend from Gloucester, a plan was hatched to drive much needed food and equipment with the help of two other British friends  (“Adam & Chris”) in a small convoy of just two vans, direct to the people who needed it.  One van was driven by myself, and the other was kindly supplied by Tom from Cotswold Van Centre which was driven by Ivan; this van was to be handed over to the Ukrainians to help with the transportation of goods.

The Ukrainians that received the aid were friends and neighbours of Ivan.

We received a list of items that the people needed most that included food, clothing, a generator and medical supplies. Between all of us we procured the items from various sources which included online purchases, a trip to Sports Direct (who gave us discount when they found what the items were for), an enormous haul we bought at Cash & Carry, and some donations from friends.

Once the vans were loaded, we made our way over via the channel tunnel and completed 90% of the journey in one (a drive of some 22 hours), stopping only for copious amounts of coffee.

We had an overnight stay with friends in a Polish town, which is only an hour and half drive from the Polish/Ukrainian border, where we waited for a phone call to tell us when to go to the border for our rendezvous with our Ukrainian friends.

The call came around 11am and we set off, but sadly less than 45 minutes into the journey the van broke down. We were unable to fix the van at the roadside and were stuck with two loaded vehicles, with the clock ticking as we tried to make the RVP in good time. Luckily for us an Italian group had just made an aid run, spotted us and came to our aid, but there was a language barrier as they spoke no English or Ukrainian and our Italian was best described as “bar Italian” only. Thankfully we did get somebody on the phone who translated from Italian to Ukrainian.

The fantastic Italian family and friends group agreed to load all the gear from our stricken van into theirs and follow us to our RVP, however there was a caveat; we had to collect a cat first.

The cat story is another tale in itself and you can read about here.

We eventually reached the RVP and transferred the contents of the vehicles to the Ukrainian transport, by now it was past midnight and the already exhausted Ukrainian’s from Ivan’s hometown still had a 4–6-hour journey back through Ukraine to Kiev.

The other van got recovered and repaired by our Polish friends and was delivered to Ukraine a couple of days later.

The cost of fuel, tunnel, and around half of the aid we delivered was born by Winnens. Myself, Ivan, Chris and Adam obviously gave our time for free.

We are now in the process of organising another trip of aid and another vehicle to deliver to Ukraine later in July or early August.

I will keep you posted with further updates when we have them.

In the meantime, I thank you for doing business with Winnens as this helps us to continue to help Ukraine even if it is just a little bit, if we all continue to do a bit their struggle will hopefully be over sooner.