Devon’s Ukraine heroes are pub landlords, pupils and families
As Putin’s devastating war against Ukraine continues to rage on, people in Devon have been playing their part in helping with the situation in several ways. From fundraising for support relief charities to welcoming refugees into their homes to making brave journeys to the border to deliver aid. Both adults and children have been getting involved to show the people of Ukraine support whatever they can, with vigils taking place across the county.
As people continue to hope for an end to the conflict, here are some of the people in Devon trying to shine some light in dark times through heroic acts and kind gestures.
The pub landlord driving Ukrainian refugees to safety
Dozens of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine have been transported to safety or driven to help in the fight against Russian forces by a selfless pub landlord. Tom Littledyke, aged 31, who lives on the Devon and Dorset border, said he was left “broken and separated” by the conflict in Ukraine. And so Tom and his girlfriend Georgia Wellman loaded his minibus with food, blankets, supplies and various donations to be distributed among Ukrainian refugees.
Tom left their home in Broad Street, Lyme Regis and reached the Polish town of Korczowa at 3am on Wednesday (March 2), 1am UK time. Since reaching the Ukraine-Polish border, Tom has been travelling back and forth, transporting stranded Ukrainian citizens and dropping off supplies. Read the full story here.
The amazing people of Mid Devon
Andy Cuddy has collected hundreds of items in Tiverton (Image: Lewis Clarke)
People across Mid Devon have continued to support Ukrainians with donations of medical supplies, clothing, and donations this week.
In Tiverton, Andy and Tanya Cuddy are aiming to raise GBP15,000 to purchase a former NHS ambulance to drive to Ukraine to be used in the town where the couple have a home. Mr Cuddy explained: “We are raising around up to GBP15,000 to by an ex-ambulance which is currently in South Wales. There are cheaper ones which are a lot older, but we want to get one which will last.
“My wife Tanya being Ukrainian, and I’ve lived there and worked there. I owe them my life as it was a hospital in Zhytomyr which diagnosed my cancer. I want to do everything I can for them and people I know there, including my stepson and daughter in law, who are stuck there.”
In the years Mr Cuddy lived in Ukraine, he worked for three different schools and got to know the country’s culture and people. His stepson and daughter in law both work for Doctors Without Borders. Read the full story here.
Two Devon sisters who made a split-second decision to drive to the border
Two Devon sisters have been hailed as heroes after they made a sudden decision to drive a van load of supplies to the Ukraine-Polish border.
One minute Gail Henwood and her sister Lyn Jaffa were dropping off their own donations at a drop-off point in Teignmouth – the next, they had both gone and got their own vans and are driving one of them 1,300 miles in the early hours of Sunday morning. “Not sure how that happened, and it’s a bit surreal and scary,” said Gail, from Teignmouth, who will be driving with her sister Lyn from Torquay. When friends of the two sisters heard about their amazing plan, they immediately began to raise money to buy stoves and medical supplies once they get to Poland. Jane Tipper, who started fundraising on Friday morning, had raised more than GBP2,000 within a few hours.
She said: “I am in awe of Gail and Lyn. I have been watching the news and thinking, ‘How can I donate?’ but you don’t know if the money will get to the right people or who to trust. “But I trust Gail, and I know she will get it there and do a good job.
She’s just amazing. She’s still going to a 50th birthday party on Saturday night and then setting off at 4am Sunday – that’s just the kind of person she is. She never thinks about herself.”
Pupils at Shebbear School
Shebbear Community School raised GBP451 for the Ukrainian Crisis Appeal (Image: Shebbear Community School)
Pupils at a North Devon primary have been showing their support for Ukraine, raising hundreds of pounds. Shebbear Community School raised GBP451 for the Ukrainian Crisis Appeal after the school council had put forward the idea and the whole school community got behind the event. The children and staff dressed in blue and yellow for the special day.
They were able to buy a Ukraine ribbon to show their support further. These were made by Annie and Wilomina and raised GBP85 towards the total sum. The children paid to plant a sunflower seed as part of a competition to see who could grow the tallest one but also as a sign of peace.
The day ended with a cake sale. Read the full story here.
Ideford Village Hall’s supporters
Tea and cake for Ukraine (Image: Vicki Gardner Photography)
Hundreds has been raised through tea and cake to help the humanitarian effort in Ukraine. Ideford Village Hall hosted a morning session on Saturday, March 12, raising GBP1,270 in two hours.
Vicki Gardner, who organised the event, said: “I had the idea but needed some help, so I asked some friends, and they all immediately jumped at the chance to help, which was just fabulous. “In a week, they had been given the use of the village hall for free, offered donations of cakes and lots of raffle prizes. From the moment the doors opened at 2pm, the hall was filled with and abuzz with people buying raffle tickets and enjoying tea, coffee and a lot of very delicious cakes.
“People were so, so generous and we were overwhelmed by the level of support we got.” The funds raised have been split between various charities. GBP640 was donated through The Big Give, which match-funded donations, so doubled the donation to GBP1278. WarChild had GBP255 donated, Medicins sans Frontier GBP125, Mercy Corps GBP125 and a Ukrainian children’s charity, Voices for Children GBP125.”
Mid Devon residents lending a helping hand
Tanya, Jelena, Dinas, Kerry, Leigh and Neale and lorry driver Dima (Image: Lewis Clarke)
Mid Devon residents gathered to help those in the besieged country as Russia continued its devastating attack on cities. At Elmore Football Club and the Blue Velvet cafe helped fill a 44-tonne lorry with items for Zhytomyr. Zhytomyr is the home of cafe owner Tanya Cuddy, who has a son and daughter-in-law working with Doctors Without Borders in the country.
As the lorry left on Wednesday, March 23, she said, “We have been collecting items for over a week, and our driver Dima is driving our donations to Zhytomyr, so hopefully they will receive it soon. “I did not realise I had such space for so many items, and we are filling such a massive lorry. When we started, we didn’t know what would happen, and I’m so surprised at how people around the area have given the time to donate and help box it all and sort it.
It’s been a lot of hours. “This is a 44-tonne truck, thanks to donations from all over, including the Mobility Shop and CreaTiv Hub. It will carry many medical supplies for the hospital because they need a lot of things, including hygiene products.
We also have toys, sweets, pet food, nappies, clothing, so hopefully, it will go to the people who need them.” Read the full story here.
The Devon couple who raised thousands alongside six lorries of donations
Ukrainian flag. Credit: Yehor Milohrodskyi (Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/syuhhPwu-hk) (Image: Copyright Unknown)
A Devon couple raised thousands and six lorries full of donations for Ukraine.
Richard Easterbrook and his wife, Maria Lutsyk, who is from north Ukraine, have been raising donations in the country since it was invaded by Russia on February 24. The couple, who live in Barnstaple, organised several collection points covering a wide area, including Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Ilfracombe and South Molton, as well as coordinating with local businesses to make the most of what they could offer. Richard, who drives around Europe for his farm machinery business, is donating his vehicles and will be behind the wheel himself taking the donations, which include food, sleeping bags, clothing, medical supplies, nappies and other essentials.
Richard said: “It’s been such a manic week-I’ve been up until one in the morning and then waking at six so I’ve not had time to think about what it’s going to be like. It’s going into the unknown, I’m not sure what we’ll find.” Read the full story here.
The East Devon couple showing their support
Sally and Richard with the Ukrainians they are driving to Germany.
The men in their lives stayed behind to fight in the Territorial Defence Force. (Image: Sally and Richard Beckett)
A couple from an East Devon village are driving Ukrainian refugees to Germany after dropping off a motorhomes worth of donations. Sally and Richard Beckett, a retired couple from Kilmington, started to collect donations after seeing the devastation in Ukraine on the news. Richard is an army veteran, he served in the forces for nine years, then spent another 25 working as a police officer.
The couple did some research and got in touch with contacts in Ukraine to find out what the refugees would need, and put calls out to their local community. Over the course of a week, they were ‘inundated’ with donations and their house was overflowing. Donations included sanitary towels/tampons, nappies and baby milk.
To lend a helping hand, the local church ran a makeshift ‘donation centre,’ and even then, Sally and Richard reached a point where they just couldn’t accept anything else. Sally and Richard also started a fundraiser to help buy essentials, in case they weren’t donated. Read the full story here.
The Ottery St Mary ambulance and van convoy
Scott Cheadle (Image: Frankie Mills)
A group of people from Devon have come together donating much-needed items, ready to be delivered to the Poland and Ukraine border.
Medical supplies, food and blankets are amongst some of the items which have been donated by locals in the south west. Scott, of Toadpit medical services who own the ambulances, said: “I was watching everything unfold and I was awake until 3am in the morning, I just felt that I had to do something. That’s when I thought – I know, I will fill the ambulances up with medical gear and drive down and see what we can.”
Those raising funds through a Pink Floyd tribute gig
The Darkside of Pink Floyd (Image: submitted)
A fundraising concert featuring the music of Pink Floyd will be part of a major humanitarian aid drive from people in Brixham. Brixham Rotary Club has teamed up with Brixham Theatre and top UK tribute band The Darkside of Pink Floyd for the concert on April 23. The theatre and the band are providing their services free of charge for the benefit concert, and all funds raised will be in aid of the Ukraine crisis.
The gig is one of three major threads launched by Rotarians in Brixham to support those suffering from the conflict in Ukraine. In late February and early March, Rotary Brixham conducted a collection of materials, delivering these to a central collection point in Exeter. They have sent bedding and clothes to Moldova through the Christian Response 2 Eastern Europe group, and a truck left Exmouth bound for Moldova in late March.
Many refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine have found their way to safety in Moldova. Brixham Rotary also conducted a street collection in Fore Street, raising more than GBP1,200. Read the full story here.
The Torbay dad and daughter
Bob Ward and his daughter Emily Douglas
Torbay super-volunteer Bob Ward is back on the road, and this time he has the crisis in Ukraine in his sights.
The one time Torquay butcher will be joined by his daughter, Emily Douglas for the 2,500-mile round trip carrying urgently needed supplies to neighbouring Poland on the borders of the war-torn country. They are leaving at the end of the month in a van supplied by Bob’s employers at Snows Mercedes Exeter, and the plan is to fill it to the brim with urgent food, sanitary clothing and products to make the refugees more comfortable in their time of need. A GoFundMe page has been set up to pay for the fuel, ferry and travel costs with a target of GBP2,000.
Any excess will go to charities organising travel for the refugees to get to the safety. Read the full story here.
Exmouth United’s Under 11 and Under 9 girls teams
Exmouth United Under 11’s and Under 9’s with coaches, Jack Sparkes and Manfy Sharpe (Image: Heather Wright)
Exmouth United’s Under 11 and Under 9 girls teams have raised over GBP4,000 after completing a 10-mile dribble challenge. With over 30 girls dressed in yellow and blue, taking part at Exmouth Community College, they dribbled the length of a football pitch completing 10 miles worth of dribbling between them.
Exeter City’s Jack Sparkes and Exeter City Women’s captain, Manfy Sharpe were there to cheer the girls on and also took part in a match after the challenge was completed. It was not just football skills on show either, with the girls baking cakes for parents and spectators, raising an extra GBP200. All the money raised will go to the UNICEF Ukraine Appeal helping the families and children in Ukraine who are in such desperate need.
Paul Baker, under-11’s coach said. “It was so great to see the teams come together and complete the challenge. The amount of money raised is fantastic and is likely to continue going up as more donations come through. The girls are a real credit to the club, both with the amount they have raised, but also the determination to complete the challenge.
We’re very proud of them all.” Lucy Burch, under-9’s coach commented. “To have Jack and Manfy there cheering on the girls definitely helped them get over the line – we’re really grateful that they gave up their time to come along, and for playing a match at the end – the girls loved it!”
The Exeter Friends of Ukraine
All hands on deck. Exeter Friends of Ukraine sorting donations for those caught up in conflict. (Image: Exeter Friends of Ukraine)
Exeter woman Shannon McGinley set up the Exeter Friends of Ukraine Facebook page and it saw a huge surge in donations.
Shannon said she set up the group to help with the logistics side of organising donations, which need to be collected, sorted and correctly labelled in several languages before heading to their final destination. Although there was already a Facebook group running at a national level, Shannon wanted to start a donation network in Exeter and has done so with mass support, including that of Exeter’s Blessed Sacrament Church. “We’re trying to be the lynchpin between all the groups and essentially coordinate them all together and bring together the different resources,” Shannon said.
The group has helped bring people together and help deliver items to Ukraine, including Lyn Glover who has been dubbed ‘the granny in a tranny’. Read the full story here.
This lad from Torquay
Barney Bettesworth takes on his Ukraine triathlon (Image: submitted)
Pint-sized triathlete Barney Bettesworth took on a triple challenge for Ukraine – and smashed his fundraising target. The nine-year-old from Torquay decided to swim, cycle and run to raise funds for Ukrainian families suffering because of the war.
And Barney’s Big Triathlon went way beyond his expectations. After announcing “I’m going to make everybody proud today!”, the Babbacombe school pupil swam 250 metres in the Torbay Leisure Centre pool, cycled 5.5 kilometres on Goodrington seafront and ran 5km along Paignton and Preston promenades before finishing at the Boathouse. A big crowd of well-wishers was there to see him finish, running through the tape with his dog on a lead.
Staff and students from the Ted Wragg Trust
Ved Jan Kumar, a year 10 at St James in Exeter (Image: Ted Wragg Trust)
Students and staff from across the Ted Wragg Trust have been working hard this term with fundraising initiatives in aid of refugee crises around the world. A wide array of dress-up days, cake sales and even a ‘Children’s Bake Off’ resulted in an incredible effort of over GBP5,000 being raised, with further donations from schools of clothes, sleeping bags and blankets, being delivered directly to the Poland/Ukraine border by the Red Cross. Moira Marder, Chief Executive of the Ted Wragg Trust, said: “Through our Trust values, we commit to equipping our students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to become compassionate and courageous citizens, determined to make the world a better place.
These activities across all of our schools truly reflect those values, and we have been really moved by the strong feelings and desire to help by our students right across the Trust.” Students at Cranbrook Education Campus were a sea of blue and yellow last month as they supported Ukraine through their dress up day, and managed to raise more than GBP500 for the Red Cross Disasters Emergency Committee. The funds were collected through generous online donations from parents and collection buckets throughout both Primary and Secondary Cranbrook Education Campuses.
Children at Marine Academy Primary in Plymouth raised an amazing GBP1,271.37 for Comic Relief through wearing red noses and dressing in red. They also enjoyed an ‘Egg and Spoon’ race (with a twist), seeing students balancing their red noses on spoons in place of eggs! Their ‘Children’s Bake Off’ was also a hit with the children even taking on the roles of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood to decide on the best Marine Academy bakes.
An enormous GBP1,884.34 was raised by students and staff at Plymouth-based Lipson Academy through their non-uniform day, with many students and staff attending school dressed in blue and yellow to show their support for Ukraine. All Saints Academy, also in Plymouth, raised GBP625 and have been busy collecting further donations of money and food to support people displaced by refugee crises. At St James School in Exeter, students have led arrangements for donations of clothes, sleeping bags and blankets, through their School Parliament.
These were then sent to the Polish/Ukraine border through the Red Cross. The student MPs have also arranged to raise money through a small change collection, which will be donated to UNICEF. A special mention should be given to Alfie Johnston, in year 7, who raised more than GBP200 for the UNICEF collection by selling his old toys and collecting donations from neighbours.
So far, the students have raised over GBP400 and hope this will increase further by the end of term. Moira added: “We continue to be energised and enthused by the ambitious, selfless and collaborative nature of our students and staff at the Ted Wragg Trust; we are excited to hear more about what our schools get up to with their fundraising efforts across the summer term and beyond.” Ted Wragg Trust consists of 13 schools: Isca Academy, St James School, West Exe School, St Luke’s Church of England School, Cranbrook Education Campus, Exwick Heights Primary, Whipton Barton Federation, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Crediton, and the Plymouth-based Marine Academy primary and secondary schools, All Saints Academy and Lipson Co-operative Academy.
The new all-through school, Matford Brook Academy, which is being built on the edge of Exeter, will open in September 2023.
Those who donated to The Bear Trail and Bear Town call out for help
The Bear Trail and Bear Town – donations came in thick and fast (Image: The Bear Trail)
Hundreds of people donated items after an appeal from Mid Devon attractions, The Bear Trail and Bear Town. And owner Ben Jordan ensured that the items arrived safely, driving the donations there himself. He says: “We were absolutely amazed by the support we received after making an appeal on social media.
In the end, we had four vans of donations, which must have been as much as GBP5,000 of equipment, taken to Ukraine.” Ben worked with a contact at a warehouse close to the Ukraine border, to ensure the donations, which were from a list of approved items, reached the areas where they were needed most. You can stay up to date on the top news and events near you with DevonLive’s FREE newsletters – enter your email address at the top of the page or go here