From Dereham to Moldova: Drivers complete mission for Ukraine
- Credit: Courtesy of Andy Pearson
Drivers who set off from Norfolk to deliver supplies to desperate Ukrainians have negotiated a number of obstacles to successfully complete their mercy mission.
Truck drivers left Dereham last week towing a pair of lorries destined for Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the south east.
It followed a Herculean effort which saw hundreds of people from Dereham and the surrounding area donate supplies for civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict.
The Railway Tavern pub in Yaxham Road and the Morrisons supermarket in Station Road became hubs for donations, while local firm Norfolk Family Movers provided trailers which were stacked to the rafters with clothes, shoes and non-perishable food.
But for drivers Martin Walsh and Ray Sayer, the journey across Europe has not been without incident - with a blowout on one of the tractor units proving the biggest headache.
Andy Pearson, managing director at Norfolk Family Movers, said: "Before they went we bought new sets of wheels and tyres for each trailer as they are the ones which always get the punctures, but the blowout was on the tractor.
"That was in the middle of Romania and was an eight-hour wait for a new one because it was a strange size and the nearest supplier was 500km away.
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"That set us back a bit, apparently customs getting into Romania and Moldova was horrendous. They wanted the ins and outs of everything."
Thankfully, Mr Walsh and Mr Sayer finally made it to Moldova to drop off the supplies with a charity in Moldova, and are now on their way home.
And Paul Sandford, whose pub welcomed a flood of donations in recent weeks, called the response from Dereham and the surrounding area "overwhelming".
He said: "From my point of view, Dereham always comes up trumps when the chips are down.
"Doing the collection has had a detrimental impact on business because people thought we were shut, but it was not important at the time and I didn't even think about it."
Mr Pearson added: "What an experience it has been for them [the drivers]. It is a great achievement.
"I am very proud, but the biggest credit must go to the people who produced the donations and organised everything."