‘It’s very emotional here’ – Exmouth man’s four-day trip to deliver essential aid to Ukraine refugees

An ex-serviceman from Exmouth is heading home from helping Ukraine refugees after delivering essential aid to those crossing the war-torn country’s border.

Simon Poole, from Exmouth, with Splash Projects, which has its headquarters in the town, set off on the four-day 1,935-mile trip on Wednesday (March 9), arriving in in Isaccea, Romania, a few miles from the Ukraine border, on Saturday (March 12).

Simon, former military personnel, has spoken of the emotion, watching as hundreds of women, children and elderly refugees crossed the border after fleeing their homes and walking miles to safety.

He said: “It’s very emotional here. Around 300 to 500 people, mainly women with children and older people, arrive every hour. Many are very tearful.”

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Simon Poole, from Exmouth.
Photo: Splash Projects.

Simon took with him pictures and letters of support for refugees, specially-made by children at Lympstone Primary School.

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Some of the refugee children with the donated supplies.
Photo: Splash Projects.

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Pupils from Lympstone Primary School sent messages of support.
Photo: Splash Projects.

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Money raised through crowdfunding was spent on supplies. Photo: Splash Projects

Simon was joined on the humanitarian trip by Splash colleagues Darren Clarke, from Plymouth, and friend Mike Evans, from Berkshire.

Once in Romania, the team was met by Darren Edwards, from Shropshire, a former member of the Territorial Army, and team member of Kayak4Heroes.

One of the team has now crossed the border and is heading to a hospital inside Ukraine, to deliver medical supplies.

On Tuesday morning, (March 15), Mike set off for Izmail Military Hospital, in Ukraine, to unload a trailer full of medical supplies. Border officials spent around two hours searching his vehicle for weapons before allowing him into the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team has spent around £9,000, amassed through a Crowdfunding campaign, buying essential items to give to arriving refugees.

Simon, who on Wednesday (March 16) will make the return journey back to the UK, said: “The whole place is run by volunteers, there are people from all over the world here trying to help.

“People are given food and other essential items they couldn’t bring with them. They’re all being taken by bus to Germany where they’ll be taken to youth hostels and other places.

“We’ve been told the hospitals inside Ukraine most need insulin, morphine and other pain killers.”

He added: “There is about a 15 – 20km traffic jam of cars leading out of Ukraine to the Romanian border.

“We’ve been told it’s because many of the women don’t have driving licences so are just leaving the cars on the side the road before they get to the border, or it’s taking ages to process their documents at the border. So, we don’t know when Mike will be coming back.”

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Shown here, left to right, is Darren Edwards, who is paralysed from the chest down following a climbing accident, who flew into Bucharest from his home in Shropshire, with Mike Evans and Darren Clarke.
Photo: Splash Projects.

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The aid for refugees is dropped off on the border with Ukraine.
Photo: Splash Projects.

Photo: Splash Projects.

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The message to Ukraine refugees arriving at the border, offering free aid and supplies.
Photo: Splash Projects.

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The four-day trip set off to take aid to Ukraine refugees arriving at the border.
Photo: Splash Projects.

The Splash team was planning a recce this April to a location in Romania for the launch of a new project, Adventure with Purpose, taking place in October, but brought the trip forward and diverted to the Ukrainian border given the desperate need for refugee support.

The team is working with Cristian Ispas from Romanian disability charity Motivation, who has contacts and logistical intelligence on the ground at the Ukraine-Romanian border.

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