South Hams unites to help Ukraine

The whole South Hams and beyond digs deep to help Ukraine with both donations of items and cash

By Richard Harding   |   Kingsbridge and Ivybridge reporter   |
Thursday 28th April 2022 9:46 am
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A huge community effort in the South Hams and Plymouth to help Ukrainian refugees has resulted in a mountain of donations, and monetary aid which is already being distributed to those in need.The mammoth operation has involved dozens of volunteers and huge donations from businesses to ensure urgent supplies reach refugees in Poland.The Devon Ukraine Support Fund is overseeing the logistics of getting donations to Poland with Plymouth-based Lady Kingsman Foundation and Andreas Mesa-Cruz spearheading the campaign.Devon and Somerset Fire Service organised collections at some of its South Hams stations and Crownhill. Fire service station manager Simon Wonnacott, who instigated these collections, said: “It started off with my daughter collecting in her garage, then we used the stations at Kingsbridge, Salcombe and Modbury but we were quickly over run, so we’ve now linked up with Plymouth, and the Devon depot. Communities in the South Hams have been absolutely amazing and so generous and the firefighters have all been incredible, bringing stuff to the depot in their own cars.”The massive effort has been co-ordinated by Louise Turton of the Lady Kingsman Foundation, who organises the sorting and distribution at the main hub, donated by Euro Tech for three months, with help from more than 100 volunteers.She said: “Everybody is watching the news and seeing the atrocities going on, but when you’re here, packing stuff for them, it seems very real. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Thank you to everyone for their overwhelming love and support and to all my volunteers who are doing all the work on the ground.”Modbury station’s watch manager Andy Tidd organised the Modbury collection.He said: “The response has been phenomenal. People from all the outlying villages and local businesses all collected and members of the public spent a lot of money to buy brand new stuff. We then stored it and transported it down to the guys in Plymouth who are sorting the logistics.”Every single item that is donated is logged and added to a spreadsheet and every pallet is itemised to help speed up the process through customs. Andreas Mesa-Cruz said: “Initially, we were taking three vans over, but we got so many donations, that we quickly realised we had a logistical nightmare on our hands. Gregorys Distribution very kindly donated a manned articulated lorry and a driver, and now, with the donations, we will be able to send a lorry over every three weeks. It’s incredible, the level of selflessness.”Mesa-Cruz is hopeful of replicating the South Devon model in Ilfracombe where Garness Specialist Rope Service has donated an area. “But we need volunteers to make it work and are hopeful the Round Table, Rotary Club and WI will help,” he said.

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