EDP joins mercy mission to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader,

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader, packed and ready to leave for Poland to help with the Ukrainian refugees. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Archant 2022

Over the past few weeks a series of mercy missions have left Norfolk to head to Poland. They are doing so to help the thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their homes because of the Russian invasion. Eastern Daily Press editor David Powles has joined the latest mission.

How many of us have followed the events in Ukraine over the last few months and felt powerless to do anything to help those millions of people affected?

How many of us have thanked our lucky stars that we have not had to live through a period of conflict, not had to have our safety threatened and not had to fear for the lives of our loved ones?

One of those people is Adam Hale-Sutton, a 42-year-old Little Melton father-of-two.

But what stands him, and thankfully many more, out from the crowd is that he was determined to do something about it. He was determined to go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference to those affected.

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine.

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

Therefore Adam has spent the last three weeks travelling between Poland and his Norfolk home to not only deliver vital supplies to those who are gathered at the border with Ukraine, but help find them places to stay as well.

And this week I shall be joining him.

Most Read

It’s 3pm on a bright spring day and we’ve borrowed a Hethersett Primary School mini-bus to embark upon a 1,300-mile journey, through the night, to a hotel in Krakow, in central Poland, the make-shift headquarters for Adam’s mercy missions.

The bus is loaded with medical supplies and food, which we shall be distributing to those who need it at the town of Mydeka, on the border with Ukraine, which is where so many people have fled in search of a safe haven.

But more importantly, whilst in Mydeka, Adam, our companion Richard Knight, from Hertford, and small groups of others doing the same, will work together to try and get Ukrainians out of the refugee camps and into more permanent homes.

The group of Ukrainian refugees Adam Hale-Sutton helped transport from Medyka to Ireland.

The group of Ukrainian refugees Adam Hale-Sutton helped transport from Medyka to Ireland. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

In the past three weeks Adam predicts to have helped 40 desperate Ukrainian refugees. Women, children, old and young, all in need of somewhere to go to wait out this horrific war. Those to have been helped also include three dogs, a cat and even a rat. That shows just how much life in Ukraine has been torn apart.

These refugees have been found homes in Ireland and Germany, but not yet the UK. I hope to try and find out why that is, as Adam says it ‘isn’t through a lack of trying’.

For Adam this feels like a life calling. He works in disaster recovery and ‘has always been about helping people less fortunate than himself’. Already he says he’s learnt as much from these trips about himself, as he has about other people. More on that through the week.

Adam Hale-Sutton and others eating a meal at an aid drop off point after 20 hours of driving.

Adam Hale-Sutton and others eating a meal at an aid drop off point after 20 hours of driving. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

To be able to do this, he’s needed the unending support and patience of his wife Helen and two children Sam and William, for which he says he is so grateful for.

For myself, this trip is about trying to get across to people in this country just what the Ukrainians are going through. Just how cruel this conflict is and just how unnecessary any conflicts, and the misery they cause, are.

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader,

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader, packed and ready to leave for Poland to help with the Ukrainian refugees. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Archant 2022

I'm also fortunate to have the amazing support of my wife Kim and boys Freddie and Alex.

Adam has already spent thousands of pounds of his own money embarking on these trips. He says it’s worth it to just be of help, but I’d also like to make sure people know what work is going on out there and why his, and other, efforts are worth financial support.

Several weeks into a conflict like this it is easy for observer fatigue to kick in. Life moves so quickly that it’s too simple to forget that for millions of Ukrainians life has come to a complete standstill.

Scenes in Poland near the Ukraine border.

Scenes in Poland near the Ukraine border. - Credit: Adam Hale- Sutton

They need our support now, just like they did when this conflict first began.

• You can follow the group’s progress all week in the EDP and on our social media channels where David will be posting regular updates.

If you can help fund the trips please donate https://tinyurl.com/zy9cmt2c

The story so far

Within a few weeks of the conflict breaking out, Mr Hale-Sutton knew he wanted to do something to help those innocent families affected from the Ukraine.

He, along with Mike Kenny, from Hethersett, joined a convoy to take supplies to the Polish border, but it soon became clear the greater need lay in helping those seeking refuge.

The group, who were using the Hethersett Scouts minibus for transport, turned their attentions to helping 19 Ukrainians, who eventually ended up heading to Ireland because of visa problems getting them into the United Kingdom.

Adam Hale-Sutton

Adam Hale-Sutton (left) and Mike Kenny on their way to Poland to deliver aid and collect a refugee family - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

Mr Kenny, 47, said at the time: "I've got kids myself. There was a father there saying goodbye to his daughter. His two sons are fighting the Russians in Kyiv, he's going back to join them on the front line.

"It's like Dunkirk, with all the little ships. And there's me and Adam in the Hethersett Scouts' minibus."

Upon returning Mr Hale-Sutton decided to take a sabbatical from his job at disaster recovery company Belfor, where he works as a technician helping householders who have suffered fires and floods, to continue his rescue missions. 

He has since travelled back to Poland to help more families, including a group who are currently staying at a Polish hotel whilst they wait somewhere safe to go. Others have been rehomed in German and Ireland.

They have also delivered aid to the Red Cross in Medyka, the busiest of the Polish-Ukrainian border crossings, across which tens of thousands of refugees have fled since the Russian invasion began last month.

Despite being frustrated by the red tape involved to bring people back to this country, he is determined to do what he can to help for the next few weeks.

Ukrainian families during the first journey across Europe. 

Ukrainian families during the first journey across Europe. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

The father-of-two said: “This is a terrible once in a lifetime event and at the moment it is not getting any better for the people. I just want to do what I can to help."

Mr Hale-Sutton is now dipping into his own savings to fund the trips and people are urged to do what they can to help via the link https://tinyurl.com/zy9cmt2c.

Scenes in Poland near the Ukraine border.

Scenes in Poland near the Ukraine border. - Credit: Adam Hale- Sutton