When we heard of the plans of Keith Low and his mercy mission to the Ukraine, we knew we wanted to help. Keith is the father of our Sales Manager, Stella Leckenby, at POD Digital and she coordinated the donations to help fill the vans with contributions from the team.
Keith was a member of the Leicestershire Fire Service and had just been accepted for a position in the International Rescue Service when he had to take early retirement. A broken leg while playing football put paid to his dreams of joining the service and helping those whose lives have been shattered by conflict and disaster.
His career took on a different path and he now has his own business, Sterling Luxury Travel, but he still had the desire to make a difference. When he heard about the plight in the Ukraine, he knew he wanted to help. As a professional driver, he had the idea to raise £999 for diesel and fill a van with donations of clothing and essentials and drive to the Ukraine/Poland border.
His £999 target was smashed and he eventually raised £7,823 meaning he could take two vans, filled with clothing, baby food and essentials.
After a three day drive across Europe, Keith and his companions, Simon Hargreaves, Ben Benjamin Poulter and Mark Evans, arrived at the Ukraine border in Poland. They intended to deliver their van loads of donations to the refugees as they entered the safety of Poland, but on the journey over he made contact with a local man, Rafał Mazurek. Rafal was helping refugees in the border town of Zamosc and so they made a decision to make their first stop at his home where there were 17 mothers and 23 Ukrainian children taking refuge.
There were plenty of tears and heartwarming yet sad stories to listen to when they made their emotional arrival. After unloading supplies, they decided to go shopping for some much needed food from the local supermarket. Keith compared it to something like an episode of Supermarket Sweep: the tins of meat and fish filled the first two trollies, then the third was filled with meat. They soon realised they needed a freezer to store the meat, and another trip was made and the freezer was installed in their house. They finished their day by dropping off the rest of the donations at a reception centre organised by the Red Cross.
The team returned the following day to Rafal’s house for a BBQ where they were greeted by an amazing spread put on by the grateful women and children. It was a wonderful ending to the two fantastic days they had spent with the wonderful Ukrainian people.
Keith’s mercy mission was made possible by the contributions of local people and businesses. TGW offered to pay for the health insurance and accommodation for the four drivers and Kibworth Easy Rider helpers managed the donations that were amassed. There were donations from Handelsbanken; child care staff and students from Leicester College and Edstrom, who not only supplied a long wheel base van, but gave £1,000 for petrol and train fares. Ontrack Couriers initially donated £1,500 and have since offered to pay £200 per month to the home of Rafał Mazurek in Zamosc while the women and children are taking refuge there.
Here at POD Digital, we were honoured to be able to help with our donations of baby food and equipment. Managing Director, Mike McKinlay, also donated £250 as a contribution to the fuel needed for the journey, all of which was coordinated by Keith’s proud daughter, Stella.