Vehicle security and van fleet compliance specialist, HH Driveright, recently took part in a mission transporting much-needed humanitarian aid items to Ukrainian families and orphanages, which has been masterminded by two passionate men from the Selby area.
HH Driveright, itself based in Yorkshire, is backed the latest trip planned by Stuart Davison and Mitch Mitchell. This amazing pair have already made seven trips to the Ukraine and invested many thousands of pounds of their own money, to ensure Ukrainian families and orphanages have vital supplies.
In this latest mission, there was another driver involved. This is HH Driveright’s driver, Ian Wilson, who desperately wanted to show his own support for Ukraine, having learned of Stuart and Mitch’s trips through a friend.
Knowing Ian needed financial support in order to take part, and did not have time to raise funds via a ‘giving’ page, HH Driveright stepped in and offered to cover his expenses as his sponsor.
In addition, HH Driveright provided him with a van and arranged all the finance on the vehicle. This was be fitted with an HH Driveright GM2020 tracker, which was adapted to solely operate in a mode to collect details of the CO2 generated by the trip. In a true net zero way, HH Driveright will offset the carbon, by arranging to plant trees in the areas impacted by the journey.
The mission was a resounding success and both Ian and Stuart are already planning their next trip, on which they plan to build a water well and visit a field hospital.
Ian delivered the well needed aid to a monastery in Lviv which has been converted into an orphanage for refugee children and those who have lost family in the conflict. While Stuart made a further 9 hour journey to Kyiv to deliver a haul of medical supplies to the main hospital there.
The orphanage is run by the redoubtable Sister Julie, who along with the sisters and other displaced women help to care of the children.
Ian and Stuart came in to see us at HH Driveright and below is the interview where they detail the trials and tribulations of the trip, including the dangers of missile warnings and the stories of some of the refugees.
Ian Wilson undertook the trip with all expenses and fuel costs covered by the Leeds-based company, plus some of its cutting-edge technology fitted within the van he drove. This vehicle was provided by HH Driveright’s sister company, J M Hall Couriers, for whom Ian works.
Although this was Ian’s very first humanitarian aid trip to Ukraine, it will not be his last. Despite the war escalating just as he was departing, and the fear this invoked, what he has seen and experienced has made him determined to return.
Making the trip with humanitarian aid ‘veteran’, Stuart Davison, who has now completed three such missions through a desire to assist Ukraine, Ian transported a variety of items. This included dog food for Ukraine dog shelters left struggling to cope with large numbers of abandoned dogs, plus clothing for children at an orphanage run by a remarkable woman called Sister Julie. Her resilience and care for the orphans in her charge has made a phenomenal impact on him. He admits to having been moved to tears, on more than one occasion, by what he saw and heard in the orphanage.
The hospitality and welcome provided by the children, as well as the nuns who are looking after them, will never be forgotten and strong memories prevail. HH Driveright had also sent a variety of colouring and other books for the children and seeing how Sister Julie utilised those, to ensure no child missed out, will stay with him.
Having the children sing in gratitude was another emotional moment. Witnessing the thankfulness of children, who have literally lost everything, has made Ian more determined than ever to do more.
This trip highlighted the orphanage’s real need for running water, of which it has none. Ian and Stuart are now doing everything in their power to try to provide that. They have also been given a list of items that Sister Julie requires, despite the nun being very averse to accepting charity and wanting to turn the orphanage into a self-sufficient operation.
The desire to return is remarkably strong, despite some very nervy moments during this drop. These included Stuart believing he had been lured into a Russian trap en route to Kiev and having to spend 40 minutes in a bunker in the city, after a missile warning went off.
Ian Wilson says, “Emotional as it was, it is literally the best thing I have ever done in my life, bar having children. Situations hit me really hard, particularly when interpreters – young women who had fled their village and who had only learned English from the radio – explained their situation and some of the stories of the children in the orphanage.
“These two young women, whilst fleeing across fields by night when Russian troops arrived, were suddenly presented with four children to take with them. A mother just ran over, explained her husband had been shot and killed and begged them to take her children away, as she could not cope. It’s so hard to imagine such a situation and, as these girls have no idea if their own family has survived, it’s heart-wrenching to hear such things.
“As soon as I started to describe my experience, my wife said “so when are you going back?” She knew there was no way I could not do more. She knows me too well.”
Rebecca Hall, managing director of HH Driveright, says: “We could not be prouder of Ian and what he has done. We will back him all the way, with whatever other action he takes to help the people of Ukraine, and the orphanage in particular, and hope his narrative will help generate more donations and the vital water supply support that the orphanage needs. Ian’s selfless actions are a great example of how we can all do more, if we try.”
HH Driveright has also collected the data of the CO2 emissions generated by the trip, using the functionality of the GM2020 device with which Ian’s van was fitted. It will now work with an environmental charity to offset the impact of the trip through actions such as tree planting.