We join Craig George and his fellow team members on an epic journey to Ukraine, fuelled by cross-industry generosity
It must have been around five or six years ago that I found myself driving an ex Plymouth Citybus Super Pointer Dart through the Glynn Valley between Bodmin and Liskeard. It was early: I’d got a head start on the day to get the bus to Plymouth for MOT prep, so the sun was just rising as I turned from the A30 onto the A38 at Bodmin. Perhaps it was the early hour, or more likely still my alarming tendency to daydream when I really should be concentrating, but all of a sudden I felt this strange sense of elation. It was just my bus and I; empty roads and fleeting glimpses through gaps in evergreen trees revealed the valley below bathed in sun-kissed mist. In that very moment it was so easy to imagine that I was somewhere I’d much rather be – anywhere but home; Switzerland, southern Poland or any other spectacular mountain range you care to nominate.
Looking back, it sounds ridiculously fantastical. After all, who in their right mind would take a 17-year-old British urban bus and expect it to climb over a European mountain range after a marathon journey across Europe itself? Worse still, what if that occurred almost by accident?
As it happens, that’s exactly what myself and three other bus industry personalities have just done. However, we didn’t take a pair of Volvo B7RLEs over the Carpathians without good cause. Nor did we end up there accidentally; but mountain roads and steep elevations were certainly one of many things I managed to overlook when planning a very ambitious journey in the name of supporting Ukraine.
How it started
Avid readers, skimmers and casual page-turners of this publication may well recall my previous tales focussed on Ukraine, including driving a LAZ through the Chernobyl exclusion zone and also documenting the epic journey to Eastern Poland with three VDL SB200 Wright Commanders donated by Arriva in the early days of the current conflict in which Ukraine finds itself embroiled. Hence my enthusiasm when it comes to doing more to help this glorious and proud nation.
My journey to Chernobyl in 2019, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the planting of a seed that has put me in touch with a fascinating network of people; some of whom now concentrate all their free time on their Ukraine UK Aid organisation. This includes Elliott Svatos who, like myself, is a former client and now friend of legendary Chernobyl tour guide Nikolai Fomin. Between them and others involved in Ukraine UK Aid they are now doing an excellent job of targeting aid, including cars, to exactly where they are needed in Ukraine. Crucially, they do this without losing sight of their aid and vehicles. This is becoming more important as some unscrupulous people are skimming aid and selling it for profit, including exports to Africa.[…]
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