Suffolk men driving to Ukraine with donations following 'amazing' response

Darius Linkus who had the idea of a donation centre. Folk Cafe are taking donations to Poland to aid

Oliver Horsman (left) and his friend Darius Linkus who will drive 1,700 miles to get supplies to the Ukrainian people - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Two Suffolk men will drive the 1,700 miles to Ukraine in a van filled with donations after a plea for goods went viral.

Oliver Horsman, from Trimley St Martin, and his friend Darius Linkus, who also lives in Suffolk, will set off from Felixstowe on Friday evening to embark on the 33-hour journey to just over the border into the war-torn country.

In a separate truck also taking supplies for Ukrainians will be Mr Horsman's sister Liz Spencer and her husband Mike, from Buckinghamshire.

Mr Horsman, 42, posted on Facebook on Monday to say he was going to drive a van to the Romanian/Ukrainian border with a friend to deliver aid to refugees and appealed for donations.

He said the post had "gone viral" and kicked off an "amazing" response; in two-and-a-half days they have received 20 tonnes of items, from blankets and toiletries to nappies and clothes.

FOLK Café near Bury St Edmunds is taking in donations that will be driven across Europe to borders with Ukraine 

FOLK Café near Bury St Edmunds is taking in donations that will be driven across Europe to borders with Ukraine - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The FOLK Café, near Bury St Edmunds and which is run by Mr Horsman's niece Ali Barker, has helped the appeal's reach (its Facebook post was shared more than 300 times) and has become a drop-off point for donations.

Mr Horsman, a father-of-two, said: "My wife is Lithuanian and just watching this happen in a country as beautiful as Ukraine, I had to do something."

Oliver Horsman, who instigated this huge effort to get items to Ukrainians 

Oliver Horsman, who instigated this huge effort to get items to Ukrainians - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Most Read

They are hoping to arrive at the border on Monday and charities will then distribute the goods.

They are travelling to Suceava in north-eastern Romanian, but Mr Horsman said some of the route would take them into Ukraine.

"I'm not there to fight," he said. "There are people having to go through so much worse than me just driving a truck in comfort with food. It's nothing in comparison."

Four tonnes of donations have been received in less than two days since Oliver Horsman posted on Facebook on Monday

20 tonnes of donations have been received in 2.5 days since Oliver Horsman posted on Facebook on Monday. Pictured are volunteers at work at the FOLK Café distribution centre - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mr Linkus, a Lithuanian national, runs a logistics company between the UK and Ukraine.

Miss Barker, 31, from FOLK Café, said the support had been "second to none" and came from the local community and further afield including Hertfordshire and Peterborough.

"We're just so grateful," she said. "What we are getting from people is how humbling it is to come together like that. From feeling so upset and frustrated there's a sense of community and joy to be able to help them."

The FOLK Café drop-off point, at an Ashtons Legal unit opposite the café, has been a hive of activity as items are delivered and then sorted by volunteers.

Folk Cafe are taking donations to Poland to aid the Ukrainian people Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Gina Long, of the GeeWizz Charity that is now operating the FOLK Café distribution centre. She said the support had been "incredible" - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Miss Barker said some people had donated and then stayed on for five hours to help at the centre.

Also on board with the effort is A&R Haulage, based at Risby, which will be transporting donated goods to the Ukrainian/Polish border using 44-tonne articulated trucks, and will be making multiple trips.

Roly Hollings, MD of A&R Group, said: "As long as we can fill the trailers, we will take them."

Folk Cafe are taking donations to Poland to aid the Ukrainian people Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

A&R Haulage, based at Risby, will be making multiple runs with donated goods to the Ukrainian/Polish border - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Fundraising for the trucks is being coordinated by Miss Barker's mother Gina Long's charity, GeeWizz, which will also be operating the FOLK Café drop-off point. Details of how to donate will be included on the GeeWizz website. 

  • People wanting to donate or volunteer to help sort donations can go to the Ashtons Legal unit opposite FOLK Café in Fornham St Martin.

  • Potential volunteers can also contact aileen@geewizzcharity.com and keep an eye on the charity's social medial channels.

  • Lots of collection points are taking donations that will then go onto the FOLK Café distribution centre. One is Old School Café in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds.