THE Mayor of Woking has praised the relief effort for Ukraine being co-ordinated at Fairoaks Airport.

Cllr Liam Lyons was hugely impressed when he visited the hub last Friday to witness first-hand the scale of the operation handling humanitarian aid.

“When I arrived at Fairoaks Airport I was expecting a large shed and a pile of boxes,” he said.  “Instead, I was met with a very large hangar, housing a slick operation involving about 20 people.

“It is abundantly clear that people in Woking have been very kind indeed, donating food, medical and hygiene supplies, toys and bedding, and these are sorted very quickly into containers and bags as appropriate.

“While I was there, two Ukrainian drivers arrived. With the help of a translator, they explained that they can collect supplies and deliver them from Woking to the front line in Ukraine in about 24 hours. One of them sleeps while the other drives.

“The urgent need right now is cash for fuel and vehicle maintenance, as each delivery costs upwards of £1,500 in fuel and tolls.

 “I also read some of the individual messages that people had written – one from a boy aged only five – to their Ukrainian counterparts, and it is obvious that these goods are being sent out with a lot of love and concern for what people are dealing with as a result of the current conflict.

“While it is heartening to see the vast outpouring of goodwill from people in our borough, the people of Woking stand in proud solidarity with the people of Ukraine, as we all pray for a swift and peaceful conclusion.”

The hub is run by Souls4Good, founded by Chobham-area residents Tamarka Egan and Sam Baczkowski.

However, while the response to their appeal has been magnificent, the organisers are warning that the need for help will continue for months to come, as increasing numbers of Ukrainians are displaced by the Russian invaders.

As donations continue to arrive at the Fairoaks hangar, there is also a pressing requirement for money to keep the delivery vans driven by volunteers travelling to and from Ukraine.

More than 20 potentially hazardous journeys have been made to Ternopil by Ukrainian, Polish and British drivers. The charity has to cover the cost of fuel, ferries, road tolls and maintenance.

Woking District Rotary Club is helping run the hub and bring in donations. Member Graham Warr, of HSS Tool Hire at Old Woking, has given three generators, which will be used in areas where there is no electricity.

“The generators were loaded on to a van heading for Ukraine the same day,” said the club’s senior vice-president, Martin Leigh. “Much of our local Rotary effort is project based, where we can give hands-on help to organisations.

“Some of the needs are more challenging to fulfil, and this is where we have been able to be of particular help. Transport costs and other expenses are even higher and sponsors are urgently needed.”

Tamarka said: “We badly need money for fuel and to help keep the vans running. As fuel and transport costs are so high, every penny will help.

“We also need more drivers who can make the journey into Ukraine.”

She said the charity was not currently sending out clothes and its focus was now on collecting food and medical supplies.

“The Ukrainians need bandages and other first aid equipment, as well as painkillers for adults and babies,” added Tamarka. “Medicines such as Calpol for babies and children will be welcomed.

“We are also still appealing for generators, pumps, torches, batteries and power packs for areas where the electricity has been cut off.”

Souls4Good asks that supplies are taken to its collection points, and not directly to Fairoaks.

“The whole situation in Ukraine is so tragic,” said Tamarka. “It’s a very, very difficult time for everybody there and we are delighted with how people in Surrey are answering our appeal to help them.”

SOULS4GOOD collection points are at:

* From Friday 22 April:  St Mary’s Church, Church Hill, Horsell GU21 4QQ – open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm.

* SDB Aluminium Glazing, 39 Windsor Road, Chobham GU24 8LD – Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.

* St John the Evangelist Church, 222 Epsom Road, Merrow GU4 7AA – Monday to Friday 9.15am to 5pm.

* Wiola and Ania, 20 and 22 Bladon Close, Guildford GU1 1TY – Monday to Friday 4pm to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 8pm.