The managing directors of two Nottinghamshire firms have set out this week to deliver 10 tonnes of aid to refugees fleeing Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
Property magnate Arran Bailey, of Nottingham’s ALB Group, and Rob Cassidy, of Mansfield-based New Century Windows, are initially driving five vans full of aid to Poland after being inundated with £25,000 in donations through a GoFundMe campaign.
They will then continue their 3,000-mile round trip through Slovakia to Hungary, distributing essential aid bought from cash and carries in the UK before they left.
The pair have been appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and were determined to help after seeing news footage of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing to neighbouring countries.
Originally the team had hoped to deliver the aid to Moldova, because they both felt the 230,000 refugees ending up there had been largely overlooked, but were unable to locate a refugee camp in Moldova to arrange delivery.
Rob and Arran launched their joint GoFundMe campaign last week, with a target of reaching £5,000 in cash donations. But within just 24 hours the campaign had raised £15,000, topping almost £18,000 by Monday morning and a whopping £25,000 within a week.
The team also had two “overwhelming” donations, from Stena Line, which donated the ferry crossing, and fashion brand Paul Smith, which donated around 3,000 items of clothing.
All of the money donated is being used to purchase essential items such as toiletries, blankets, clothing, baby milk, nappies, food and torches. ALB and New Century Windows will be funding all fuel, tolls, accommodation and other expenses incurred on the trip from their own pockets.
Arran, whose projects closer to home include the acquisition of commercial units in Nottingham’s Bridlesmith Gate area with the aim of transforming it into the East Midlands’ answer to London’s Carnaby Street, said: “When Rob and I chatted about the awful situation in Ukraine, we both shared the view that we had a duty to help those poor civilians who have been forced out of their homes and their country.
“We hoped to raise £5,000 so we’ve been absolutely bowled over by the support and donations we’ve received that has seen our original target more than quadruple. It’s overwhelming. This war has really tugged at people’s heart strings, and we are proud to be able to do something of value.
“These people need all the help they can get. We believe our aid delivery will go a long way towards helping those fleeing the conflict and providing some short-term relief from this appalling situation.”
Arran and Rob have this week been converting the GoFundMe cash donations into aid items, including towels, solar-powered phone chargers, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and cutlery.
The aid team, consisting of work colleagues Lee Donnelley, Wayne Rosegreen, Nathan Lee, Arran Bailey, Piotr Kozera, Rob Cassidy, Joe Rafter, Harry Whyte (of HBW Developments Ltd), Sam Gunning and Pete Gunning, began their epic journey on Thursday (March 17th).
Arran added: “All funds raised will go directly to buying essential aid for refugees, so I’d urge anyone who’s able to help to make a donation, however large of small. It will all go to an extremely worthy cause.”
Donations can still be made through Arran and Rob’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-for-civilian-refugees-fleeing-ukraine?qid=137fe116425106056e974d26ede12068.