By Andy Hirst
One of the oldest car dealerships in Huddersfield has been doing mercy missions to Ukraine after turning its showroom into a collection centre for essential supplies.
Tim Marsden, owner of the St Andrews Motor Company on Leeds Road, Huddersfield, decided he had to act after seeing the horrendous news coverage once Russia invaded Ukraine.
Tim has been helped by his partner Deborah, car dealer Joan West and her partner Joseph Lee who live in Almondbury. Between the four of them they organised one van packed full of humanitarian aid to go to Ukraine, driven by friends
For the second trip Tim and Joseph drove the van and Tim has now decided to raise £5,000 to buy a vehicle to convert into an ambulance to drive over there and donate to Danish humanitarian workers who regularly travel into Ukraine.
Tim, 62, of Holmfirth, said: “It’s unbelievable how the brave Ukrainians are making a stand against the Russian invasion but it means more than two million refugees are now having to leave their homeland.
“Most of these are women, children and babies who may never see Ukraine again or even their sons, fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and mothers who are staying behind to fight.”
St Andrews Motor Company has been at Leeds Road opposite the turn off to St Andrews Road for 55 years and remains a major drop-off point for donations as more trips are planned. Medical supplies, nappies, women’s sanitary towels and ready-to-drink baby milk are especially needed.
Tim found some contacts in Poland and Ukraine. Having been there himself he knows the aid he is providing is getting to the people who need it most and has heard stories of aid being sold on the illegal market or intercepted by people working for the Russians.
He said: “What we were doing gained momentum pretty quick. In fact, it took off that well that for a month we forgot the car sales and concentrated on organising the aid.
“We ran out of room pretty soon so we emptied the showroom and got stuck into collecting and packing the donations.”
Tim has set up a GoFundMe page to raise £5,000 for the ambulance. To donate, click on this link https://www.gofundme.com/f/Huddersfield-Ukraine
Tim added: “I wanted to take the aid myself as I heard through a good source that all the aid given isn’t necessarily going to the people that need it and I wanted to make contacts I could trust for the future. I know we won’t make a difference to everyone, but we will make a difference to someone. Whatever people have donated will make a difference to someone they will never know.”
It’s a 3,000-mile round trip to Ukraine. The route is down to Harwich in Essex, a ferry to the Hook of Holland and then a 21-hour drive to the Ukrainian border.
Tim and Joseph made some good contacts in Poland who guided them into Ukraine itself to make the drops. The aid reached Medyka on the Ukrainian border and then was transported to Lviv and also just over 1,100km to Kharkiv.
They did this by linking in with Danish aid workers and one of them, 23-year-old Muna Barrow, said up to now they have been daubing a cross on civilian cars to get the aid through Ukraine which is highly dangerous as it makes them a target for the Russians. She would be far safer driving an ambulance-style vehicle which is why Tim wants to provide one for them.
On his trip over there Tim also spent £750 on tinned food, dried soup and water from a cash and carry which he gave to the Danish aid workers to get to Ukrainians most in need, some living in bombed out basements and too old or injured to travel.
The aid Tim has provided so far have included medical supplies, thermal foil blankets, baby blankets, 20,000 nappies, 20,000 sanitary towels, dried food, energy bars and drinks, bottled water, medical supplies, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, hats and gloves and around 50,000 baby wipes.
He has also taken lots of pet food donated by his sister and their friends as animals are also suffering dreadfully in Ukraine.
Tim said the people in Ukraine are incredibly thankful for all the help and aid they are receiving.
“I can’t begin to tell you how grateful they were for your donations to them – it was very emotional being over there,” he said. “Without all your donations big or small we couldn’t have done this. It really meant a lot to me personally that people I know gave me so much help with this venture.”
The other donations they need now include bandages, gauze and first aid kits along with incontinence pads for people with dementia in Ukraine as the Russians have destroyed the source for them.
Tim also wants about 3,000 T-shirts in dark green, brown or black sizes L, XL and XXL.
He revealed: “I guess these are for the civilians who venture out to defend their country against the Russians so they are not seen as easily as they would be in light clothes.”
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.