Thursday, 07 July 2022

Teacher delivers aid to Ukraine by van with golf buddies

Teacher delivers aid to Ukraine by van with golf buddies

A TEACHER at Queen Anne’s School in Caversham has delivered supplies to Ukraine.

Daniel Boyes, 57, who teaches religion and philosophy, left the Henley Road school on Friday in two vans loaded with 197 boxes of blankets, toiletries and other essential aid which had been collected by the school.

He was accompanied by golfing friends Paul Belcher, Adam Dandridge and Niall Ward to share the driving.

Mr Boyes, who worked for the United Nations High Committee for Refugees during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, said: “When the war between Russia and Ukraine started the humanitarian side of me kicked in and I asked the guys I golf with if they were interested in doing a convoy and they said ‘yes’.

“I approached the school and they were keen to support us, so we asked for students to give donations per year group. They brought in things like sanitary items, nappies, baby stuff, toiletries and other emergency aid.”

Year 12 students packed and labelled the boxes.

Before they left, the drivers were blessed by school chaplain Rev Rachel Ross-Smith using holy water and a bundle of rosemary. The vans were then waved off by more than 100 pupils.

They arrived at the border of Poland and Ukraine on Sunday morning, a day later than expected due to delays at Dover and getting caught in a snowstorm in Poland.

There he was met by contacts from a small local charity from Trostyanets in Eastern Ukraine, a city only just liberated, who took the aid into the war-torn country.

Mr Boyes said: “It was very emotional to hand over the supplies to our contacts. We were the first aid they had received and it clearly meant the world to them.

“It didn’t matter that we had travelled for nearly 48 hours. Their reaction made it all worth it. What we did was just a small drop in the ocean. There is so much more work to be done. I would love to go back and do more in the future.”

The men returned to Britain on Monday evening and Mr Boyes is planning to take some time to recover before he returns to teaching.

Headmistress Elaine Purves said: “The situation in Ukraine is shocking to witness and has left many of us feeling helpless and wanting to do more to support the humanitarian crisis that unfolds each day.

“The whole of the Queen Anne’s community supports Mr Boyes and his colleagues in this generous and compassionate initiative. We wish them safe travels.”

Members of The Caversham, the golf club where Mr Boyes and his friends play, raised more than £2,000 to help with the cost of travel. This included £500 from Focus Resourcing Group for fuel and £300 from Laybel Interiors.

Mr Boyes said: “I am overwhelmed by the response from everyone at Queen Anne’s School, the local churches and members of The Caversham.”

Fundraising for the Ukrainian appeal continues through events and activities at the school with music concerts, collections and a whole school Walk Around the World challenge in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières, a charity which is operating in Ukraine.

The school parents’ association has committed 50 per cent of ticket sales from the upcoming Scarlett Ball and auction to the British Red Cross disaster appeal with the other half pledged to local charity Trust House Reading.

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