Mountain of caring as Fenland rises to challenge of helping Ukraine
Practically every town and village in Fenland has risen to the challenge of helping Ukranian families as they flee the might of the Russian army thousands of miles away in Eastern Europe.
The plight of the 100,000s of mainly women and children crossing the border as they rush to find safety has hit a chord with people across the globe and that includes right here in Fenland.
Appeals for essentials including warm clothing, nappies, medical supplies and personal hygiene items has seen the residents of Fenland dig deep to help.
Collection points have sprung up across the district with people keen to do their bit to help those families now stuck in freezing temperatures, away from their homes, and in most cases their menfolk too, as they have remained behind to defend their country.
More than 1.7 million people have crossed into Poland in the past two weeks - in fact the refugee crisis is on a scale that has not been seen since World War Two.
The Fenland people's response has been huge and at one of the area's biggest collection points - the offices of Fenland Association for Community Transport in March - there was barely a spare inch of space as the donations mounted up ready to be shipped out on Friday to Buffaload Logistics at Pymoor ready to then be taken to the Ukranian borders.
Nicola Christy, the FACT hub co-ordinator, said: "It is absolutely incredible, people have been so incredibly generous. We have dozens and dozens of people arriving daily with piles of nappies, baby milk, new clothes and underwear they have just purchased over the road at Tesco and brought straight here.
"People have been turning up with car loads of bags of clothing and other items including pet food. It is absolutely mind blowing to see."
In fact the donations made in March were enough to fill not one but four mini-buses as the goods were driven to the Buffaload Logistics site where it would then be packed and loaded on to a lorry ready for its 1,700 mile journey to Ukraine.
Staff at Buffaload Logistics have been working round the clock to ensure the necessary paperwork was in place to enable the lorries to travel smoothly across Europe.
In Wisbech businessman Francesco Renda has provided a collection point on the Alpine/Bambers Retail site, which like March, has seen mind-boggling generosity from people,who have not just donated things they already had but have been out shopping and donating goods bought specially.
Francesco, whose partner is Polish and whose mother lives on the Ukranian border, said: "We had to do something, the sight of the poor children and hearing first hand from my partner's mother of what was happening - just meant we had to act.
"People have been incredibly generous, I think we have been sending two van loads of stuff over to Buffaload every day and on Sunday a pallett of nappies went on a lorry bound for Ukraine that had been collected solely in Wisbech."
In other parts of Fenland a group of families in Wimblington, Doddington and Manea have launched a Justgiving appeal to raise money to fill shoe boxes with items including toys for younger children.
Posting on their Justgiving page they said: "We are a group of families living in Manea, Doddington, Wimblington and March.
"We've come together to start putting together shoebox packages for children from birth to five years, who are fleeing the Ukraine.
"We're aiming to raise, £500 towards these boxes. No child should ever have to witness war or leave their home in the world we live in."
To donate visit Justgiving Ukraine in Our Hearts Fenland.
In Christchurch villagers have also been rallying to donate items which saw two large car loads head to Peterborough ready to be shipped out.
Schools including Westwood Primary School in March have also been doing their bit and Westwood parents and families donated a van load of items including nappies, which were boxed up courtesy of boxes donated by local firm Smurfitt Kappa and taken off by staff from removal firm AG Cannon to a local distribution point ready to be shipped to Ukraine.
Nicola Christy summed up the Fenland response when she said: "This is happening hundreds of miles away, but the people of Fenland aren't sitting back and doing nothing, they are offering some comfort and support to those poor families, and it is incredible to see their generosity."