Banbury business owner drives Land Rover to Ukraine to deliver humanitarian aid

A Banbury business owner has successfully returned from delivering aid to people affected by the war in Ukraine.
Michael and a group of Ukrainian volunteers loading vehicles with aid including, warm blankets, clothes and toiletries.Michael and a group of Ukrainian volunteers loading vehicles with aid including, warm blankets, clothes and toiletries.
Michael and a group of Ukrainian volunteers loading vehicles with aid including, warm blankets, clothes and toiletries.

Michael McCalmont, owner and founder of the Bloxham Mill, felt obliged to help those fighting on the Ukrainian side in the ongoing war with Russia.

Michael and his team worked out that the most cost efficient and practical way to supply aid to the Ukrainians was to drive their vehicles to Poland, where they would buy the necessary goods, load up their vehicles, transport them across the border, and then gift the vehicles to charities in the country.

Michael said: "I felt that it was relatively easy to put one’s hand in one’s pocket, but I wanted to explore whether there was something more practical that I could do – so this was the motivation behind my expedition into Ukraine.

Michael on the far left alongside the team he travelled to Ukraine with.Michael on the far left alongside the team he travelled to Ukraine with.
Michael on the far left alongside the team he travelled to Ukraine with.

"Eight of us took a convoy of four vehicles transporting stretchers, backboards, tyres, generators, and clothing to the border.

"At that stage five of the team returned to the UK, leaving just three of us. We were joined by two Polish guys and a Ukrainian to take three of the vehicles into Ukraine to deliver aid, one of the vehicles to the military, and our vehicle to the medics.

The team journeyed further into the country and closer to the frontlines, risking Russian missile strikes and the dangerous road conditions in order to distribute the goods to soldiers immersed in the fighting.

Michael said: "We travelled from Kyiv to Dnipro and on to Kryvyi Rih to deliver mine detection equipment to soldiers who were back for a break from the front.

Michael talking to volunteer Norwegian paramedic, Simon.Michael talking to volunteer Norwegian paramedic, Simon.
Michael talking to volunteer Norwegian paramedic, Simon.

"This was our first encounter with the military—a unit from Georgia, initially volunteers now hoping to be paid. Their morale was high, and they were appreciative of the equipment.

"We met up with an elite unit of the military, to whom we handed over one of the vehicles—interesting conversations about the front, which is WW1 primitive trenches and tough.

"We then travelled back to Kyiv, where we met our medic contact. He was delighted with, and very appreciative of, our four-wheel drive rescue vehicle, they have a number of ambulances at their base, but the ambulances are unable to get to the front.

"Our vehicle is, he said, ideal: being four-wheel drive, it will be able to ferry casualties from the front to a field hospital quickly—speed can be lifesaving as hypothermia and shock are often fatal.

"We then travelled across the border (a very slow process) to Krakow to fly back to Luton. Our mission very much accomplished. I have seen enough of the situation and I now have a better idea of what they require and how I might be able to help."

MIchael returned to the UK on Friday December 16 after spending the 10 days in Ukraine.