This time, my report has been harder to write, as the war in Ukraine continues with no end in sight and takes its toll. Like me you may find some of this report emotionally challenging.
I start with a story about bringing back vehicles from Ukraine!!
The concept is simple:
- Drive a lorry to the Ukraine full of various items of aid
- Drop off the aid
- Load the lorry with some old Russian motor bikes with sidecar and a car
- Return to the UK with them
- Sell the vehicles
- Buy some more 4X4 pickups to send to the Ukraine with the proceeds of the sale of the incoming vehicles.
In theory this sounds quite simple, in reality it was not, as the TV company who filmed it found out. For the full story please read on…
Phil Nash, a friend of Freeman Robert Lodge, owns V G Nash and Sons – an HGV recovery and workshop company based in Braintree, Essex. He had previously taken a lorry to Ukraine and was happy to go again.
A 12-year old Iveco Stralis, that used to be on his hire fleet, is used as a shunter in their yard. It now has 1 million kilometres on the clock. Phil is so confident in the skills of his workshop, that Phil has chosen this vehicle for the 2500-mile round-trip to Ukraine. Phil said “I have got quite attached to it. This is our 3rd trip to Ukraine! I put on the cruise control and it purrs like a kitten and returns 12mpg”
Phil then borrowed a trailer and a few phone calls later it was loaded with many and various aid items.
Now the real fun starts… Enter Igor Bott, the builder of Carmen’s Hall and a Ukrainian. His brother still lives in Ukraine and Igor needs to help his country. Igor went around Ukraine to find suitable vehicles to sell in the UK so they could be replaced by other 4×4 vehicles to send back out.
Freeman Derek Mathewson of Bangers & Cash fame then valued them using WhatsApp – he needed technical help for this bit! The selection was made.
Now Igor and his brother started on the export paperwork. As it turns out that’s not so easy as older Ukrainian vehicles don’t have much in the way of records. It took forever to discover their origin.
Then a local official came to inspect them. At this point we found out that Ukraine won’t allow some of the old vehicles to leave the country, so the whole process had to be started again!
This time, fully informed, the selected vehicles were issued with number plates so they can be exported to the UK.
What paperwork is required to export vehicles from a war zone? Enter Court Assistant Andy Miles and Past Master Stephen Britt who along with export agents and a UK company that has a Polish manufacturing company spent many hours working together to sort out all the necessary paperwork.
By now Phil and his co-driver Michael Wild have arrived in his lorry.
Eventually Phil is loaded up and he heads for the Poland/Ukraine border where the queue is over 20Km long. Phil makes his way to the front of the queue avoiding a 2-day delay. The barrier to the Ukraine border opens and Phil drives in!
VIN numbers of the bikes and car are checked, the trailer sealed then unsealed dozens of times, paperwork issued, withdrawn and different paperwork issued on more than one occasion. Finally – 35 hours later – Phil leaves the border, £1477.74 worse off and with completely different paperwork.
Eventually, Phil and his trusted Iveco get back to Essex. We met up at Freeman Robert Lodge’s coach depot, along with the film crew from Bangers and Cash and Freeman Derek Mathewson who has driven from Yorkshire to pick them up for sale at his auction.
It was over a well-deserved cup of coffee and bacon butty that we found out that Phil’s wife’s grandfather was a Carman!
Each bike and the car has its own story, being the pride and joy of the owner back in Ukraine. As heart-wrenching as it was for them, they have given them up to keep them safe from the missiles and to help raise funds for their war effort.
You will be able to watch them being auctioned live on 22 July on the Mathewson website (www.mathewsons.co.uk); you can even make a bid. Don’t worry if you miss it as it will appear on an episode of Bangers and Cash later in the year.
The whole team will be at Cart Marking in London on 22 July, so please find us to say ‘hello.’
A gift from the heart
Paul Griffin and his wife from Southend-on-Sea, like most of us have been following the appalling situation in Ukraine. While at a car dealership ordering their new vehicle, the salesman asked about part-exchanging their Land Rover Discovery at which point they thought instead they would donate it to Ukraine. After consulting Google, they found the Carmen website and while reading the article on Ukraine and how TV star Derek Mathewson is involved, they had an idea.
Paul had a 1962 Triumph Vitesse which he has owed for 6 or 7 years. Paul had lovingly restored it over time but due to ill health, he was unable to enjoy the car, so they gave it to Derek to auction. Paul donated 100% of the proceeds to the Vehicles for Ukraine Appeal – an amazing £7,700.
A lifetime’s work lives on helping Ukraine
Derby Civil Aid (DCA) is closing its doors after over 40 years, following a number of setbacks. Covid played a part in this with a lack of events to support and volunteers finding alternative causes to help, together with the sad loss of their founder and National Chair, Simon Hill in 2021. DCA had provided First Aid training to the public, clubs and companies. They used to support local charity events such as motor cross, horse racing, steam rallies and many more by supplying ambulances and medical personnel. At their peak they operated 12 fully equipped ambulances and all the staff.
They are left with 4 vehicles and a fully-equipped training centre with medical supplies.
Friend of DCA, Marc Stephens, read how Liveryman John Cribbs had helped by sending vehicles to Ukraine and got in touch to see if we could take theirs.
Court Assistants Mark Ivinson and Graham Hayden along with Liveryman Martyn Fletcher, Freeman-in-the-making, Stephen Hills, and Tim – a friend of Freeman Robert Lodge – made their way to Derby to collect the ambulances. We must also thank our friend Ian Cowley for helpfully driving us about.
On arrival, we were offered the equipment. A WhatsApp video call was made from Derby direct to Ukraine where some very emotional volunteers working on the front line were overwhelmed with the offer. The ambulances were filled with medical and other supplies and we made our way to Freeman Robert Lodge’s coach yard. They were given a once over, before Robert and his friends took them to Dusseldorf, ready for the next part of their journey to help the people of Ukraine.
On behalf of the people of Derby, The Worshipful Company of Carmen and the people of Ukraine, a huge thank-you to Rita Trickett Deputy Chair, to Jill Burd for 40 years of dedication and to David Brown Vice-chair for 30 years’ dedication. Your lifetime work lives on helping the people of Ukraine. They are indeed truly thankful.
They come in all shapes and sizes, ours comes in the form of Tom Tilly, a second-hand car dealer and Volvo fanatic from the west country, who has just completed his 11th trip to Ukraine, delivering vehicles for the Carmen. Tom has also been instrumental in helping buy and repair vehicles, rallying round to get aid. Unfortunately, Tom has to slow down a bit after his last trip due to a knee operation that didn’t go to plan. However, even though he is in constant pain he has just slowed down not stopped. “Tom you’re a star! The Carmen thank you and the people of Ukraine thank you too.”
Tim is obviously a chip off the old block – his mum has managed to find us 2 classrooms of desks and chairs, and 50 laptops. This large package will soon be on its way to the flooded areas of Ukraine.
Matthew Caffell from our friends at St Paul’s church in Cheltenham – who still manage to rally up un amazing amount of aid – held collections to buy pot noodles and breakfast bars.
Helping Ukraine in the UK
It’s not just Ukraine we are helping; a large number of Ukrainian people living in the UK also need help. Help with language skills, setting up for their new life, British culture, form filling etc. The Carmen Benevolent Trust has given £5,000 to a Ukraine Saturday School at All Saints Primary School in Barnet, an organization that does just that. Our contribution is covering over a third of their expenditure on teachers, the venue and teaching materials.
We have also been working with several military units in Ukraine along with other charities from the UK, USA and Europe as well as a number of independent groups suppling vehicles. A Ukrainian lady in the UK is making bespoke aid boxes for mothers and babies, including push-chairs and prams. We then ship them out for her.
Thanks to Robert Lodge who sometimes has more ambulances in his yard than buses!
In total throughout June, the Carmen has assisted in supplying 24 ambulances to Ukraine, 5 being supplied by the Carmen.
Let’s not forget our Clerk, I am surprised he is still talking to me! I’ve lost count of how many times I have called him to say “I’ve just brought a car or generator or something else, can you please pay asap”! Without your flexibility we simply couldn’t deliver what we have done.
Do you want to help?
- We need to borrow a 7.5 tonne lorry for a week
- We need help moving the school items from Gloucestershire to Essex
- We need help fund-raising
- We need help with import documentation
- We need people to collect vehicles and aid from around the UK
- We also need good old-fashioned cash.
The thank you list gets longer every month but we must say thanks to :
- Tom Tilly
- Justin’s MOT of Stroud
- Freeman Derek Mathewson of Mathewson’s
- UK TV Play
- Freeman Robert Lodge of Lodge Coaches
- Liveryman Lee Springthorpe of Travelnet Systems
- Peter Lansdell of London & East Coast Securities Ltd
- Phil Nash of V G Nash & Sons
- School desks and chairs, stackable
- School equipment
- Vehicle servicing and repairs prior to export
- Crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs
- Toiletries, sanitary products and nappies
- Generators – any including small ones
- Old 4×4 trucks or vans
- Not to forget good old-fashioned cash. Click here to donate online.
- Liveryman Bill Hiron from Stephenson’s of Essex
- Liveryman Robert Lodge from Lodge Coaches
- Liveryman Lee Springthorpe from Travelnet Systems
- Freeman Derek Mathewson from Mathewson’s
- Anthony Ford from Fords of Althorne
- Ben from Brookers, Gloucester
- David from UK TV Play
- Farleigh Hospice
- Justin’s MOT of Stroud
- Lee Nash from Nash Tackle
- Peter Lansdell from London & East Coast Securities Ltd
- Sky Tyres of Gloucester
- SODS opera
- Steve from Silicon Alley
- Tom Tilly from Volvo Breakers
- Universal Tyres of Chelmsford
Help us give the people of Ukraine a better life
Our Vehicles For Ukraine campaign is no longer restricted to vehicles!
In addition to the 4×4 pick-up trucks the odd hearse and van, we have also been supplying clothing, arctic suits, boots, breakfast bars, dried food, medical supplies, letters, generators and laptops.
Late on a recent Friday afternoon Carmen volunteers picked up 28 new boxed laptops donated by Silicone Alley, a computer supply company. They were loaded into a vehicle donated by the Carmen. Three days later they were in a school in Ukraine.
That school had lost most of their school equipment, not to mention the school building itself. Staff, parents and pupils were overcome with emotion as they opened boxes filled with new laptops.
However, it turns out that they have no desks or chairs to sit on to use them. If anyone knows of any stackable desks and chairs, please get in touch. Indeed, any school equipment would be welcome. Please do let us know using the comments box or email us at email@example.com
To provide some cheer for soldiers in Ukraine, young pupils of St Joseph’s primary school in Gloucester have been drawing pictures. These were taken in one of the vehicles supplied by the Carmen and distributed to units on the front line.
TV show “Bangers and Cash” donated a picture that features on the show which Derek Mathewson and sons Paul and Dave signed. The show’s production company – UK TV Play – provided a certificate of authenticity and Mathewson’s Classic Car Auctions then sold it for a staggering £640.00. Our thanks go to the buyer for their support (we hope you will be able to hang it on a wall), to UK TV Play and to Mathewson’s who donated all the proceeds to our Vehicles for Ukraine appeal.
At the same auction, SODS’ opera donated a very nice 6.5W diesel generator.
You can tell Spring is here … some of the Cars donated by the Carmen left the UK a nice silver colour. But by their second day in Ukraine, they looked a bit different.
If you can help, we are looking for:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help with anything on our list or if you think you have items Ukraine would need.
Our thanks go to several people who have kindly helped recently. Some have given their time, some their services, some money and some all of the above 😊. To name a few:
Carmen continue to support the people of Ukraine. Now, we are also sending generators to provide power to areas where electrical infrastructure has been destroyed and people are facing winter without power for heating or cooking.
Two more cars have been donated by Carmen. This time they will be loaded with electrical generators, also donated by Carmen.
Derek Mathewson from the Bangers and Cash TV series is also on board (while awaiting clothing as a Carman). Now he has moved to the other side of the rostrum, where he is bidding on cars and generators on behalf of the Carmen. Some even bypass Derek’s accounts department!
Since their trip, Carmen have continued to supply vehicles and aid, working with other groups to help them. On average four vehicles are sent to Ukraine each week, all loaded with aid for the homeless and for military personnel.
Vehicles are collected from various auction sites and dealers, including Mathewson’s in Thornton-le-Dale in Yorkshire. Carmen are also helping with servicing and repairs, it’s not uncommon to find a pick-up truck in a workshop surrounded by buses, thanks to Liveryman Bill Hiron and the engineers at Stephenson’s of Essex. Before departing from the UK, they are driven to pick-up points where UK aid agencies, churches, businesses and the odd Rotary Club load them with medical supplies, warm clothing and – more recently – generators.
We thank everyone who has made a donation or helped us to help the people of Ukraine. We can assure you that every single pound is gratefully received and carefully spent. At a time when finances are tight, the help and generosity is overwhelming; and from the most unlikely sources, too – not all Carmen!
To name just a few: Lee at City Electrical in Chelmsford donated the plugs for the generators out of his own pocket; Chris Flory at Coach Innovations in Kidderminster, who – when asked to transport five Carmen from Birmingham Airport back to Essex with an hour’s notice – wouldn’t take a penny; Derek Mathewson has helped transport generators (and the odd Carman to and from the station) in addition to the help he has already given; and Tom Tiley – an independent car dealer – has simply been outstanding. Local printers and hardware shops have also offered their services for free.
Several Carmen have donated vehicles: Past Master Nick Laister as well as Liverymen John Harris from Cribbs & Son Funeral Directors, Lee Springthorpe from Travelnet Systems, Mark Ivinson from Stone Hardy, Carrie Marsh, and Bill Hiron from Stephenson’s of Essex.
The journey from Calais can have its moments but once through French Customs the vehicles continue in convoy towards the border between Poland and Ukraine, where they are handed over to Ukrainian authorities for humanitarian use and for support to Ukrainian armed services.
Tom Tiley, when handing over a vehicle packed with aid said:
“That was one of the most emotionally challenging and rewarding things I have ever experienced or done in my life.” and
“To see a grown man burst into tears when he saw what we have all achieved and made possible really does hit home.”
In addition to generators, trucks, cars, vans, the odd hearse, clothing and aid from other charities, we conveyed a very important letter. Click here to see this story but make sure you get a tissue first!
The men at the front line in the battle against the Russian aggressors are now covered in mud and they are freezing cold, with winter temperatures below zero. We are helping to transport much-needed warm clothing for them.
Now your help is needed.
We need your help to continue buying generators as well as more vehicles. We have already had to replace vehicles that have been blown up in bombing raids.
To find out how it all started click here
Please! If you can, please help us help Ukraine by making a donation