Landlord heads to Ukrainian border with supplies for victims of war

A publican is preparing to make a daring journey to the Ukrainian border with items to support war victims.

Staff members at The Kings Arms sort the donated items
Staff members at The Kings Arms sort the donated items

Neale Chandler will be starting the long drive this Sunday after a successful appeal for donations to help the Ukrainian people.

He will be joined in his Vauxhall Vivaro van by a friend and co-driver. The pair hope to arrive at the Polish/Ukrainian border by Tuesday at the latest.

"We're leaving on Sunday – early hours of Sunday morning," said Neale, landlord of The Kings Arms, Eccleshall. "We'll be getting a ferry across to France and then driving really as far as we can on the first day, trying to get to Poland, then stop somewhere and make the final trip to the border.

"Hopefully we'll arrive late Monday afternoon, maybe Tuesday morning."

Neale put out a call on social media last Sunday, outlining the trip and appealing for donations to be brought to his pub. The response from the local community has been enormous, with everything from clothing and blankets to non-prescription medical supplies received.

"We've actually been given more than we can take," he said. "We've had to move some stuff to the collection point at the Raleigh Hall industrial estate nearby.

Volunteers help sort through fresh donations after more than 500 boxes of essential supplies were gathered by Parenting Network at Portsmouth Guildhall. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

"The response from the Eccleshall community and the wider community has just been amazing. Our call to action on Sunday, we put it out there, it's now reached about 40,000 people.

"By the end of Monday our storeroom was full. It's just been amazing. We put a call out for help to cover some costs in terms of fuel et cetera, and people have just responded incredibly – so generous."

For Neale and his family, the situation in Ukraine is poignant, and their desire to help is driven by personal experiences.

"It's really important to my wife and I," he said. "We both have first-hand experience of war – her as a child refugee in Angola. Her and her family were on the road for three months trying to find a safe haven, and then spent two years in a camp in Rwanda before they were flown out to Portugal. She is really emotional about this, and I've seen war as a soldier, so this is really close to home."

Keen to help, Neale is hopeful that others will continue to do the same as the crisis in Ukraine continues.

"This isn't a country in the middle of Africa, this is on Europe's doorstep – it's not that far away. Our theory is, if everyone does their little bit – we can do something, we can help."

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