A convoy of aid has been delivered and distributed to families and refugees in war-torn Ukraine, thanks to volunteers in Peterborough.

Everything from medical supplies, warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food and toys have travelled thousands of miles from Peterborough to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The five-vehicle convoy – which included two decommissioned ambulances - was organised by Helping Our Ukrainian Friends, a group of volunteers predominantly based in Stamford, Peterborough, Helpston and surrounding villages.

The team of drivers has recently returned from the six-day mission to eastern Poland, delivering the essential aid to be distributed to frontline communities in Eastern Ukraine.

Joining volunteers on the 3,000-mile round trip was North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust’s Maxine Drake.

Based at Peterborough City Hospital, Maxine works as a transformation programme manager, but spends much of her spare time volunteering for Peterborough Soup Kitchen.

Taking annual leave to enable her to join the convoy, Maxine and the team travelled by road to Poland - where recent daytime temperatures often plummeted to well below freezing – driving up to 14-hours a day through snowstorms to their destination.

The trip was not without its challenges and was at times emotional – says Maxine – with the group also meeting and delivering gifts to Ukrainian refugees living in Poland; mostly women and children whose husbands and fathers remain in Ukraine many of them on the front line and some of them sadly casualties of the war.

While the two ambulances, complete with a range of donated equipment and items from wheelchairs and crutches to medication and tourniquets, travelled on to Kyiv, from where they will be taken directly to the frontline for use by the military or in hospitals – the remaining aid made its way to civilians.

Maxine said: “It was a tough few days, but the camaraderie of the group was fantastic – many of us had never met before but came together to try and make a difference to the lives of those affected by the War.

“I had never done anything like this before but am already looking forward to having the opportunity to do something similar next year.

“It was amazing to be part of the experience and we are all looking forward to seeing more photographs of the children and families who benefited from the aid delivered.”

If anyone would like to find out more about Helping Our Ukrainian Friends or how to get involved, please visit their Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/HelpingUkrainesSurgeons or contact Richard Astle – richard@athene-communications.co.uk

The group is always seeking further funding to buy supplies for Ukraine, such as tourniquets, chest decompression needles, battery packs and camping stoves, as well as donations of food. You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpingourukrainianfriends2023