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Helping Ukraine: by Richard Llewellyn, South Wales Fire and Rescue and SERA volunteer

Tue 20, Sep, 2022

My initial involvement with FIRE AID UK was in November 2021 when I took part in a convoy to Poltava in Ukraine. After a 4-day journey we arrived. What followed was a number of days training with the Ukrainian State Fire Service, showing them how to use the equipment we had taken as well as sharing knowledge and techniques.

During the 5 days we stayed in Ukraine, the respect and friendliness shown to us by the Ukrainian people, as well as the Ukrainian Fire Service showed just how much the help we delivered was appreciated.  It was a unique opportunity to actually see money raised by a charity being used to deliver help to where it’s needed most – something you don’t get by putting a pound in a charity tin.

The bond and friendships born from my initial trip to Ukraine made seeing the dreadful videos of the invasion gut wrenching.  To know the people who we had been working with not even 3 months earlier were faced with such a dire situation, left a deep desire to want to help. Knowing our brothers and sisters in the Fire Service in Ukraine were now facing unimaginable suffering  and situations that we only see in nightmares, I knew if the opportunity to do something to help arose, I would jump at it.

Soon after the war in Ukraine started, Gary Bennett from SERA (Scottish Emergency Rescue Association) messaged a WhatsApp group that had previously been set up during the first trip to Ukraine. He advised he was looking at putting together a convoy to take aid to Ukraine.  This would not only consist of fire appliances and firefighting equipment, but also medical supplies (such as field dressings and defibrillators etc.), body armour, and helmets to protect firefighters from any projectiles as a result from the fighting going on.

I was in awe at the dedication of people such as Gary and the other volunteers at SERA showed to this mission, which led to it being put together at an incredible speed.

Within weeks we were on the road again, and after overcoming a number of problems we finally got to the drop off point where we delivered the resources.

In the last year I have now been involved in three convoys, with a fourth happening in the near future. Through doing this, I have made a lot of new friends, although all with different personalities and nationalities, we have all had one thing we in common, which is the desire to help and contribute in some way. Although my role in these convoys has been a very small part, I am very proud to be involved with SERA and FIRE AID, and look forward to being involved more in the future.

Richard Llewellyn, South Wales Fire and Rescue and SERA volunteer.