A car mechanic is fundraising to send a minibus full of medical supplies to Ukraine to help people injured in the war with Russia.
Arthur Smith, 25, hopes to raise £15,000 to stock a vehicle with 3.5 tonnes of supplies.
This would include trauma equipment, haemostatic agents, EZ-IOs (which allow direct IV access for fluids), stretchers, splints, bandages and plasters alongside a team of medics to help treat people.
Mr Smith, a former coastguard worker, previously teamed up with another company to send a bus full of medical supplies to Ukraine.
However the two organizations have since decided to work separately, with Mr Smith now raising money for a second vehicle to be sent in the next two weeks.
Mr Smith, who began his mobile mechanics and breakdown business, Patrol, from his home in Tonbridge, Kent, two years ago, said he decided to get involved on the second day of the war assistance after watching the news.
He told the PA news agency: “We started with the idea of taking some of my work vans to the Polish border filled with supplies. I had a couple of spare work vans that were not being used.
“I was watching the news and I felt like nothing was happening, so I thought, ‘What could we do? Let’s send some vans out’.
“I don’t mind long-distance driving and I’ve got a couple of employees who would be happy to do so.
“I met this guy online and started speaking to him as he needed some blue lights fitted on to an ambulance that he was taking out there.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we combine efforts and take something bigger out there?’ because he wanted to take medics out there.
“Next thing, we got a bus, and it’s now out there.”
Mr Smith said that he is hoping that an organization will donate a minibus, which will then be lived by vehicle-branding company Signosaurus, so that the bulk of the money can go towards medical supplies and the rest on fuel.
He said he is hoping to drive a minibus to Ukraine in the future but feels it is necessary to prioritize a driver who has medical experience while he organizes the logistics and verifies volunteers at home.
“The plan now is to get mini-buses, which are easier to move around, and trailers,” he said.
“We really need donations of vehicles, mini-buses and trailers. We’re also looking for medical supplies.”
He has raised more than £10,000 and has been approached by about 50 volunteers who have medical experience.
“When we were doing up the bus, there was a building site opposite where we were working, and this guy came over, who was Ukrainian,” he said.
“He gave us a pack of plasters. It was all he could afford to give.
“His family are out there and he’s not heard from them in two weeks. He said he wanted to go out there and fight but he needed to stay here and earn money. He was so grateful to us for sending a bus out there.
“Also, when I was driving the first bus down to London, a woman approached me at the petrol station and started speaking to me in Ukrainian.
“I told her I was English and she burst out into tears because she said that she couldn’t believe English people were going out there to help.”
He added: “I don’t get very emotional about many things but there was a stretch of the motorway on that drive where I was just sobbing. I couldn’t stop.
“It hits home – it’s not my family that’s out there, not my children, but when you meet people from there, you feel like your mum has just told you her home has been invaded and she’s got to run.”
To donate medical supplies, vehicles or money towards Mr Smith’s appeal, visit: RoadToUkraine.com.