Van appeal to help dads deliver aid to Lithuania

David Cole (centre) and Edd Cottee will be driving to Lithuania with aid for Ukrainian refugees.

David Cole (centre) and Edd Cottee will be driving to Lithuania with aid for Ukrainian refugees. Both their children attend Dale Hall Primary School, which is how they met. - Credit: Laura Clinton

Three Ipswich fathers have come together to deliver aid to refugees in Lithuania, but they need help for the final step of their journey. 

On Friday, April 8, Edd Cottee and David Cole will be driving to the village of Alksniupiai, where they will meet Edd’s friend, Andy Davies. 

Now, they are appealing to the community to help them find a van to get them there. 

Andy Davies has been living in Alksniupiai for the past five years with his partner and son.  

He says there are hundreds of Ukrainian refugees pouring into Lithuania, and his quiet, rural village is expecting many to arrive as the conflict rages on. 

“It's all women and children, and they’re going to be turning up with only the bag they managed to flee with,” Andy said. 

“We’re dealing with people who are coming into our area, whether they stay for the two weeks or the rest of their lives. We’ve helped a couple of kids, but until we get some stuff out here, it’s difficult.” 

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Andy had kept in contact with Edd in Ipswich. 

David Cole, left, pictured with headteacher of Dale Hall Primary School Mrs Dedicoat, and Edd Cottee with his son, Ethan.

David Cole, left, pictured with headteacher of Dale Hall Primary School Mrs Dedicoat, and Edd Cottee with his son, Ethan. - Credit: Laura Clinton

Edd and David are determined to take as much aid as they can to Lithuania.

Edd and David are determined to take as much aid as they can to Lithuania. Headteacher Mrs Dedicoat has been hugely supportive, and spread the word. Students and their parents have been collecting in earnest. - Credit: Laura Clinton

“We were chatting, and Andy said, 'we need some help out here, it’s getting a bit desperate,'” said Edd. 

Edd decided to drive out to Lithuania, and started a JustGiving page to gather aid and donations. His children’s primary school, Dale Hall, rallied around him, which is how he came to meet fellow parent, David Cole. 

“If the shoes were on the other foot, we would have both had to stay behind and fight. We would want someone to do something to look after our loved ones, and we just want to be those people,” said David. 

He and Edd will complete the 28-hour drive to Alksniupiai together. 

They are particularly keen to source aid for children, but say that any donations will be put to good use. 

“Our biggest stumbling block now is getting a van,” said David. “We need to find a long wheelbase transit, or something similar, to actually get all this stuff to Lithuania.” 

If anyone is able to help, Edd and David can be contacted through their JustGiving page at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/edward-cottee-1-ukraine