In a few days it will be a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I was picking up my sister from Heathrow - she had flown back from Australia over Ukraine hours before - and I drove back listening intently to the radio.
Over the subsequent months, with the help of my friend Dr Daria Mattingly, we sent a LOT of supplies to those in need after raising money from hundreds of you generous souls. Here is my update from late May detailing everything.
At Christmas we topped up our funds with a direct appeal and raised ANOTHER £15,000! That's a total of nearly £50,000 now. Dr Mattingly is Ukrainian and with her help and contacts we've sent exactly what is needed. We've supported her friend Anton and his unit directly. They are now based in Soledar supporting Ukrainian Special Forces.
Last week we delivered, with the help of Dr Rory Finnin (pictured far right below), Associate Professor of Ukrainian Studies at Cambridge University, a Toyota Hilux 4x4 vehicle. We put new mud tyres on it (Ukraine is MUDDY this time of year!) and some underbody protection (thank you CPS Bradford on Avon for doing this at no charge) for off roading and Dr Finnin drove it all the way to Kyiv for us. Inside were radios and generators.
Anton himself picked up the vehicle from Kyiv, pictured below and above far left. He was on leave from the front lines for the first time in 6 months. Anton is a school friend of Daria. Until February last year he worked in local government in Kyiv, after the invasion he volunteered to join the military. He is in his early forties, like me, and has small children, like me.
Your money has helped Anton and his comrades directly with the things they need most. Transport and communications. You've helped a brave man resist the invasion and boosted his chances of making it home to his children when this is all over. Thank you!
We still have some money in our fundraising 'pot' and are actively considering whats next. I'd love to help Ukraine reconstruct when peace comes - I fear there is much more fighting still to do though.