A FORMER headteacher has returned from his fifth mercy mission to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees in time for Christmas.
In February, former head Ian Mudge, who now works as a handyman, set off from his home in Horns Road, Stroud on a three-and-a-half day journey across Europe to Poland.
Since then he has completed four journeys to deliver aid collected by the Stroud community.
Mr Mudge was going to call it a day after his fourth trip but after spending time with the charity he works with in Poland and seeing just how many children are affected he decided to organise a fifth trip, setting off earlier this month.
However, this last trip was to be the most complicated.
Severe weather conditions in the UK made collecting aid more difficult with schools closing.
On the morning of the trip the van would not start due to the cold.
And instead of driving to Poland, Mudge had to meet charity workers in Holland, where it was even colder than the UK.
This latest trip however ended up being Mr Mudge’s biggest run to date.
“I had been very unsure of what sure of response to expect, especially given the cost of living crisis, less coverage of Ukrainian refugee in the news and our own treacherous weather,” he said.
“I ended up taking the largest single load of any of the five trips I did.
“What was more important to me was this was presents for children who will probably not be receiving any other form of gift this Christmas due to the war in their homeland.
“To be able to offer just a glimmer of hope is so important.
“It shows what can be done when the wider community comes together, and I am very grateful to everyone who contributed.
“I did my fourth run about six weeks ago, delivering more aid, mostly warm clothes and shoes and shoe box presents that had been donated by pupils at Eastington primary, Stroud High and Cheltenham Ladies College.
“I also spent some time with the charity in Poland observing their work with the refugees.
“Since my first trip when they were supporting 75 families, the numbers have increased exponentially.
“There are now 20,000 refugees in the city I deliver to.
“With the charity I give aid to directly supporting about 3,000 of these refugees.
“I had intended the fourth visit to be my final run but seeing the number of refugees children there, I decided a fifth journey was justified.
“I am pleased in this latest trip to have the support of secondary schools such as Archway, Stroud High School, Marling and several primary schools including Stroud Valley and Thrupp.
“In the last few weeks of term they have been collecting shoe box presents for me to deliver to the Ukranian children being supported in Poland at Christmas.
“This will hopefully give them some support in these desperate times.
“Any money raised as part of the fundraiser is used to fund aid deliveries.”
For more information visit – bit.ly/3uR6jdY