Mercy mission for Ukraine

FOUR articulated lorries laden with relief supplies for Ukrainian refugees will be leaving Bisley over the next two weeks.

Kingswood Pallets, a haulage company based in the village, is providing the trucks and drivers to carry the aid to a site in Poland, about half an hour from the border with Ukraine.

One of the Kingswood Pallets lorries on normal duties carrying wooden pallets

Behind the project is Ashleigh Page, daughter of the company’s owner Steve, who will drive for two of the four trips, with two more drivers, Darren Bristow and Kieran Roke, behind the wheel for one journey each.

Ashleigh Page

“It all started when we were chatting in the office about the desperate situation in Ukraine, and I said that if I wasn’t so tied up here I’d have volunteered to work in one of the refugee camps,” said Ashleigh.

“So my dad said, ‘Well, what about if I can free up a couple of our trucks and we can at least deliver the aid?’

“Once we’d got to that point I heard about a local lady, Natalia Vil, whose husband, Andrey, is stuck out in Ukraine and she was collecting supplies to help refugees.

“Andrey had gone out there to visit his mother, but then wasn’t allowed to leave, as he was expected to stay behind and fight.

“I went to visit Natalia and she had gazebos full of donations in her front garden. I said that we could transport it all for her, and we’d cover the costs. Then I opened another collection point to try to take the pressure off her.

“It was so emotional how generous people were, every time someone turned up with a donation I had to dash inside because I burst into tears.

“Everybody has got involved collecting aid, from schools and pubs to sports clubs, all just doing their bit. We’ll also be taking donations from other organisations out to Poland.

Steve Page

“We’re running two lorries in two trips across the fortnight. My dad and Darren will drive the first week, then the lorries will come back and be loaded up again, with Kieran taking over from Darren in the second week.

“I think dad’s quite looking forward to it, actually.”

When it came to the driving, Darren had no hesitation. “I didn’t have to think twice when it was mentioned. I’m happy to do it.

“It will be a good two days’ driving, but well worth doing. Some of the things you see on television are just heart-breaking.

“We’ll start to load up this weekend and then move off next week.”

Ashleigh has seen a change in the nature of the donations, from initially almost totally medical supplies, clothes, toiletries and even pushchairs for the children.

“Now we’re seeing things like fishing nets, which can be turned into camouflage nets, and walkie-talkies. More items which can be turned to the fighting.”

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