Twins Sam and Will Usher travel to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees
TWIN brothers who only passed their driving test eight months ago completed a mercy mission to Poland driving a truck-load of donations to help Ukrainian refugees.
Former Walhampton School pupils Sam and Will Usher (18), from Lymington, set off at 8am from New Milton last Friday, arriving in Krakow the following afternoon.
They carried essential supplies and clothing donated by themselves and collected from their old school and the New Milton Ukraine appeal drop-off centre.
There are estimates that 2-million Ukrainians could flee the country as the Russian invasion intensifies, with reports of civilian areas being shelled.
Speaking from Poland, Sam told the A&T: “It was a long drive here – 23 hours – but it has been totally worth it.
“People were so grateful. We were shocked to discover around one in 12 people in Krakow are Ukrainian refugees.
“They are getting a lot of local support. Krakow was full of Ukrainian flags.”
The brothers, both students, decided to use items left over from a clothing business they set up last year to help the refugees.
Sam said: “It snowballed from there. Walhampton School said they would give us stuff and we also took lots from the New Milton centre.
“Our grandmother lent us the money to buy a pick-up truck which we packed with supplies.”
The twins have taken time out of gap year travelling to help the war-torn country, and have also raised £16,000 online which Sam described as “absolutely amazing”.
Mum Anna, who is head of drama at Walhampton, said she and husband Bruce were “very proud of our sons”.
Walhampton head teacher Jonny Timms praised the twins’ effort, saying: “It is a great example to current pupils about young people taking action, being an activist rather than doing nothing.”
People all over the area have answered appeals to help the Ukrainian people, with a drop-off centre in Station Road, New Milton, “absolutely overwhelmed”, according to one organiser who said: “Since the day we opened the doors it has been non-stop.
“Bradbeers gave us an empty shop to use, and people have turned up day after day with items or to volunteer their help.”
At Saltwater Café in Milford there were so many donations within the first hour of its appeal that it could not fit any customers in.
Owner Becca Stock said: “We were expecting a couple of car boot-fulls, but we ended up with truck after truck-load.
“People have been incredible – we’ve also collected £300 in cash.”
At St George’s nursing home in Milford staff collected “huge quantities” of donated essential items for Ukrainian refugees.
In New Milton, local football team the Forest Strollers filled a van of gear and wore the colours of the country’s flag during a match to show their support.
Stamp dealers Rushstamps, in Lyndhurst, is offering to donate 10% of mail order sales in the UK to the Ukraine relief fund, excluding postage, ebay and trade sales.
Karen’s Pet Market in Lymington is selling local eggs with all proceeds going to support relief efforts.
In Milford on Saturday Reuben (8) and Maya Lawson (5) raised £575 by selling cakes on the village green which, along with a fundraising webpage, raised £1,880 for charity Médecins Sans Frontières which is working in Ukraine.
Lymington Rotary Club held a collection for the Red Cross Ukraine appeal in the town’s High Street which raised £4,000.
The club was following government advice which says it is better to donate to “charities with experience of responding to disasters are best placed to reach victims on the ground”.