Acres Insurance Director Nigel Wellings visits Ukraine in ‘Driving Ukraine’ support convoy
Last week, Acres Insurance Director Nigel Wellings returned from his latest trip to Ukraine where, alongside a group of volunteers, he safely delivered six 4-wheel drive vehicles and supplies kindly donated by Acres’ clients and local companies.
Nigel has been working closely with the team at ‘Driving Ukraine’ to organise the delivery of these vehicles and aid supplies to the Ukrainian war effort, and you can read his summary of the latest trip below.
My trip to Ukraine was an experience of a lifetime and one I intend to repeat next spring. Through the support of Acres’ clients and with funding from our own coffers, on this trip we were able to deliver six 4-wheel drive vehicles to add to the three we have already been involved in sending. By now, these vehicles will be out in the field assisting the Ukrainian war effort.
All the vehicles on our latest trip were loaded with humanitarian aid that we had also gathered from many kind donors. The vehicles we are donating are used for missions around the frontline, including ferrying medics and injured personnel. I was humbled by the amount of thanks we received from the Ukrainians for this. These vehicles save lives, and there is a waiting list from the different regiments for them.
The journey from home took us three days through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, and finally, Lviv in Western Ukraine. A lot of western aid arrives in Lviv, and it’s also where the vehicle workshop is for Driving Ukraine.
Please take the time to look up drivingukraine.org. Fynn Watt is the very impressive young man we teamed up with to get these vehicles where they are most needed. The work Fynn has done is inspirational, and we will continue to support it as much as possible. Fynn spends much of his time in Ukraine and has plenty of military and aid links, including his Ukrainian friend, Max, who has helped the ‘Driving Ukraine’ team understand the Ukrainian needs more. Max’s fluent English is also a great help! Unlike established charities we see that 100% of what we donate gets to the people that require it.
Many of those fighting in the war are Ukrainian farmers and farm workers. We visited a Ukrainian 1500 ha arable farm last Wednesday and learnt of some of the difficulties of farming in a war zone: wheat at £75/tonne and N fertiliser at £600/tonne! However, the soils were superb and had high yield potential. Our Ukrainian hosts, as with all the Ukrainians we met along the way, welcomed us very genuinely, thanked us profusely, and toasted with us on the final day!
We visited the war memorial graves in Lviv late on Wednesday afternoon. The cemetery was one of many across Ukraine and was a harrowing and deeply humbling experience. So many young people had laid down their lives, and especially concerning was that one of our team who had visited in April estimated that the number of graves had nearly doubled since his previous visit. It certainly puts one’s everyday problems into perspective!
Through the trip we had the privilege of being accompanied by another inspirational young person, Aiden Aslin. Aiden is British and was in the Ukrainian military prior to the war. Whilst living in Ukraine, he was captured and spent five months as a Russian prisoner. How he ever survived is beyond me. Aiden has written a book and recorded a podcast called Aiden Aslin: Life after a Death Sentence on BBC Sounds’ Ukrainecast.
The vehicles we delivered are already being re-painted in camouflage colours, and two vehicles are already working around the front line.
From Lviv in Ukraine, we shared taxis back across the border into Poland and spent Thursday night in Krakow before flying home on Friday night. It was an amazing trip, and we covered over 1500 miles on the road, but most importantly, we all came back feeling we had contributed something positive to the Ukrainian cause.
Acres has now been involved in delivering nine 4-wheel drive vehicles to Ukraine, and we are immensely proud to have done this, greatly aided by many. Major thanks and contributions must go to Steve and Sue Armstrong, Lee and Alan at Chase Park Farm, John and Anna Gent, Lisa and Tom Middleton, Richard and George Brown, Worksafe Direct (UK) Ltd, A14 Supplies Ltd plus the many others that contributed aid, drove vehicles, helped organise us and made donations.
Acres and Steve Armstrong received awards from the Ukrainians for our efforts on their behalf, which was very unexpected!
I am determined that our efforts do not stop here. An additional trip is planned for around late April 2024. Our target will be to find six more 4-wheel drive vehicles to deliver.
Please get in touch if you are interested in donating a vehicle or driving on our next trip. Every little makes a difference!