Chichester timber merchant kits out humanitarian aid convoy

It’s certainly not your usual building supply run, but a family-owned timber and builders merchant has helped to equip a humanitarian aid convoy to war-torn Ukraine.

Covers, based in Chichester in South East England, donated three crane lorries to the humanitarian organisation Stay Safe UA, which set out on their long journey last month.

The lorries, with volunteer drivers Chris Hurst, Malcolm Sargeant, Jamie Lewis and Lina Lazar from the Healing Hands Network charity, headed out for the Poland/Ukraine border, where they will be handed over to Stay Safe UA.

Their eventual destinations are Bakhmut and Kherson, a journey of about 1,800 miles, where the cargo will be used to help Ukrainian civilians.

The lorries are loaded with a forklift, a tracked recovery vehicle, a Bobcat loader and angle broom for rubble clearance, and a container of equipment including fridges, freezers, clothing and medical supplies that have either been donated or paid for with donations.

Stay Safe UA’s volunteers will use the lorries and machinery to provide help to affected civilians near the frontlines.

One lorry will carry a mobile shower unit, another one will become a mobile bakery and the third will be used for transportation tasks wherever the need is greatest.

Rupert Green, chair of Covers, said: “UKtoUkraine, Healing Hands Network, and Stay Safe UA do fantastic work getting aid to the Ukrainian people. We hoped our lorries and forklift might be of some use, but didn’t imagine how many problems it would solve for Stay Safe UA.

“Then, of course, there was no point sending them empty – the joint fundraising from UKtoUkraine, Healing Hands Network and Covers generated a really generous response, which was used to purchase the Bobcat, the container and lots of life-saving medical supplies.

“This was all put together in less than three months thanks to the amazing work from the Covers team, especially our transport manager Adam Conrad, and UKtoUkraine, Healing Hands Network and Stay Safe.

“We are delighted, as an engaged family business, to work with such dedicated people for the benefit of the brave people of the Ukraine.”

Covers, which has 15 depots across Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and Kent, says it has been working closely with the charity UKtoUkraine, founded by Caragh Booth, James Boughey and Pip Holmes.

The business donated generators to be used in Ukraine last winter.

UktoUkraine’s Caragh Booth, said: “[The organisation] is about getting the aid to where it is needed most. When an e-mail arrived from Covers offering us three Mercedes crane lorries for Ukraine, we jumped at the opportunity.

“The benefits of these lorries are two-fold. Firstly, they can carry the donations on board to the Ukraine. Then they can be used as a mobile shower unit and bakery, to transport goods and for loading and off-loading, especially moving larger generators donated by UKtoUkraine.

“This project has been a tremendous success and we cannot thank Covers and their brilliant team enough.”

Wave goodbye

The convoy was waved off from Covers’ HQ by company chairman Rupert Green; Pip Holmes and Henrietta Nettlefold from UktoUkraine; and Sue Stretton and Steve Grayson from the charity Healing Hands Network.

Also present were Chichester District Council leader Adrian Moss; chairman of Chichester District Council, Claire Apel; and cabinet member for growth and place, Harsha Desai; along with district and county councillor for Chichester South, Sarah Sharp.

Moss said: “I was really delighted to attend the sending off of the humanitarian aid to the Ukraine from Covers.

“We are so proud that Covers, a really important local business, has made this massive contribution to supporting the Ukraine with much-needed aid and the  donation of the lorries and forklift.

“Working with their partners, they have shown how important local efforts are to supporting our friends in Ukraine.”


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