Romney Crusaders take help to Ukraine

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Malcolm Maynard, Bob Frazer and Russ Feakins, all retired members of 2nd Battalion Queen’s Regiment, set off on Thursday January 12 to drive to Ukraine with a van packed to the gunnels with supplies for those in need, especially the orphanages.

Regimental flags

How did this come about?
Malcolm, from New Romney, was watching the news in February 2022 and was so moved by the plight of the innocent people of Ukraine, especially the women and children, that he felt he had to do something, so he planned a journey with a friend to take equipment, including generators, to the war-torn country and returned at the end of May. He sent money in the months he did not go but was drawn to go back and in November 2022 he and Russ made the journey again.

Bob Frazer lives in Ramsey Mereside, Huntingdonshire, and filled two cars with clothes (forty-five to fifty bags) that had been donated by the village for the current trip. Bob said that as soon as he mentioned that they were planning this trip people were very generous with goods and money and soon the van was full with donations.

Major (Rtd.) Peter White, Chair of the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) explained that Friends of The Buffs have played a significant rôle in getting items ready for this trip.

“Apart from numerous other donors throughout Kent, from Beaver Cubs to large companies, at the Friends’ Christmas lunch on December 4, and subsequently, over £1,000 was raised to help towards the cost of the trip, ferry costs, petrol and insurance etc. Malcom, Bob and Russ base themselves at Suceava on the border between Romania and Ukraine, over 1,400 miles away. The cost of adding Ukraine to the insurance policy is absolutely prohibitive so Suceava is a point at which members of the team can transfer to Ukrainian vehicles to take items to where they are most needed in Ukraine.

“Friends of the Buffs also obtained ten generators in various stages of disrepair from various Marine Engineers in Sandwich. All have been repaired by Malcolm Maynard and were included in the van load. The largest generator, a 10KW one, is destined to a feeding station at Tuniski in Ukraine which provides food for evacuees from the war zone. This location has been radically affected by unreliable electricity supply; this generator will now enable the station to remain open. Apart from these generators and money raised, approximately thirty boxes / bags of clothes etc were also collected by contacts of the Friends of The Buffs.

“In additions several bags of teddy bears for the orphanages were sourced. The response from everyone approached has been fantastic, and we are still collecting items ready for their next trip in February.”

Malcolm said: “We are always looking for generators and if they need work doing on them I am prepared to service and get them ready to take on our next trip.”

The Three Musketeers are in Ukraine at the moment and have been sending diary entries of their trip.

The orphanage where children are safe

“Saturday January 21: 10.30 met up with Daniel, director of FightforFreedom and set off to the orphanage. We saw the children, who remembered Malcolm and Russ from their last visit. We went with them on their daily walk and then went to their playroom where all three of us were swamped by little ones climbing all over us. They all called us ‘Tato’ which is Ukrainian for Daddy’ Their smiling faces made the trip worthwhile.

Later in the day we met up with the women from the orphanage and went shopping with them. We bought the supplies they really needed with the donations that we had raised before we left on the trip.”

The depot with supplies
The depot with supplies
The depot with supplies

“Monday January 23: An early start then loaded up the generator and drove off to Chernivtsi with Katie and Petru. The drive let us through foggy landscape and after an hour we passed relatively quickly through the border into Ukraine. We arrived at the church in Chernivtsi which had been converted into a place of safety for refugees and acts as a collection point for food, clothing, and equipment. This centre costs about 5,000 euros a month to run. The electricity is rationed, three hours on then four hours off making the work here so much more difficult.

It also acts as a library, a pharmacy, and a storage depot. At lunchtime we all set to and served soup and bread to the local elderly population and the refugees. We fed over 200 people and after lunch we went to a local cash and carry and bought provisions for the next day with Katie who is sponsored by her local church in the US.”

Reports are coming in daily and next week we will have a few more diary entries to share and will let people know where and how they can donate to this amazing cause.

Image Credits: Kt bruce , Russ Feakins .

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