A Welsh farmer is preparing a 1,000-mile drive to Ukraine to deliver humanitarian aid and a vehicle to people caught up in the conflict with Russia.
Award-winning sheep and poultry producer Llŷr Jones is part of NFU Cymru’s Next Generation Group and farms near Corwen in Denbighshire. He will make the journey with friend Rhys Jones in a 2004 Land Rover Discovery.
Llŷr bought the vehicle for £2,000 last week using his own money and intends to hand it over to a Ukrainian farmer as a gift. The Land Rover will also be pulling a trailer donated by Wales-based manufacturer Ifor Williams and both vehicles will be packed with medical supplies.
The idea for the venture came when Llŷr saw a social media post by the Ukrainian farmer who said he needed a 4 x 4. It struck a chord with Llŷr and Rhys, who had previously founded a charity called Cam Wrth Gam (Step by Step) that organised annual aid missions to Africa.
The charity, funded by Welsh communities, took volunteers to countries ravaged by war and disaster to sink boreholes and construct buildings.
“But the work has been on hold as we got caught up in raising our own families,” said Llŷr.
However, there was still some money left in the account and Rhys suggested it could be put to good use to help people suffering in Ukraine. That set in motion the 24-hour-long drive to Ukraine.
Llyr Jones © NFU Cymru
Details of the trip are still being finalised and the team has expanded to eight, plus two support vehicles.
The intention is to drive just across the border into Ukraine to hand over the Land Rover and trailer to the waiting Ukrainian farmer.
“The drop-off will be quick and we’ll walk the short distance back to the border to the support team before driving back across Europe together,” Llŷr said.
But he explained there had already been some unforeseen hurdles closer to home. One that he hadn’t reckoned on was the impact of Brexit rules.
“Because we are no longer part of Europe, there are customs rules in taking the medical supplies across the EU border. We were worried the whole thing would get bogged down in Brexit bureaucracy before we even left the UK,” he said.
“To make it work. we have now decided to buy all of the aid once we have crossed the channel into France.”
The cost of the medical equipment has been funded by a GoFundMe page that was set up only last week.
“In less than seven days it has raised thousands of pounds. I am genuinely staggered by the generosity of people,” said Llŷr.
Any donations can be made through our Donation page