2 minute read

Garden centre ambulance for Ukraine

Driving plans to buy an ambulance for U k ra i n e

The Pot Place Garden Centre in Penrith, has embarked on an ambitious fundraising initiative to buy an ambulance and deliver it to Ukraine.

Isat at home and watched the conflict on the telly’, said Paul Thomas, co-owner of The Pot Place Garden Centre. “I was frustrated and I felt I had to try and do something about it.”

Like many other garden centres across the country, The Pot Plant Garden Centre became a drop off point for donations to support the people of Ukraine. Through connections via Polish friends, the garden centre team made two trips to Poland dropping off essential supplies. Paul says it was evident from the second trip the situation in Poland had become more organised and what was needed next was furniture and bulky items, things which are not feasible to donate from the UK.

“When we were coming home from the second trip we were wondering what we could do to for those actually in Ukraine,” says Paul. Shortly afterwards he came across an article about a man who had helped get NHS and private ambulances that had been decommissioned in the UK, out to Ukraine.

Kataryna (left) at the garden centre with colleague Dawn.

Medical Aid Ukraine has supported the logistics of getting 10 decommissioned ambulances from London to Ukraine. “I got in contact and he was really helpful in telling me how to do it,” he explains.

Which brings us up to date with The Pot Place Garden Centre’s appeal which, in the first three weeks, raised almost half of the money it needs through Justgiving and private donations. The retailer has a target of £9,500 to buy an ambulance which another charity Medical Aid Ukraine – North East says it will fill with medical supplies so the vehicle doesn’t leave the UK empty and help with the paperwork and contacts for the handover. The garden centre will provide the drivers and pay for the fuel and flights home. Paul and his co-owner Kevin Roper have been amazed at the financial generosity for this project and the other two Polish trips. “Our local community connections are very important,” says Paul. “Our customers know exactly where their money is going and they trust us. With their help we will soon be on our way!” Strengthening links further, The Pot Plant Garden Centre has employed Kataryna from Kharviv who is living with a local family. Like many, Kataryna left her city on a train and walked across the border into Slovakia. Thanks to social media, she was able to find a home near the garden centre where she is now working across all the departments. “The customers love her,” says Paul, “she’s getting lots of hugs.”

You can follow The Pot Place’s progress on its Facebook page and support by visiting Justgiving online and searching for ‘The Pot Place’.