Farming family raises £15,000 and embarks on mercy mission to Ukraine

Martin Jensen (left) with his daughter Emily Jensen-Balderstone and fellow Guestwick villager Rupert Wood

Martin Jensen (left) with his daughter Emily Jensen-Balderstone and fellow Guestwick villager Rupert Wood, with the urgent medical supplies which they will deliver to the Ukraine border - Credit: Chris Hill

A Norfolk farming family has raised more than £15,000 to help the people of Ukraine - and is now preparing a mission to drive urgent medical supplies to the war-torn country.

The Jensen family, based at Church Farm in Guestwick, between Fakenham and Aylsham, have also farmed in Ukraine for more than 10 years - so they were shocked by last week's brutal invasion by Russian troops.

They launched a GoFundMe page which attracted an "overwhelming" £15,000 of donations in less than two days.

The money is being spent on emergency medical supplies including first aid kits, bandages and tourniquets - after their Ukrainian friends said this was the top priority.

Martin Jensen, along with fellow villager Rupert Wood, will drive the first vanload to the Polish/Ukrainian border as soon as customs documents are approved.

The farmer, who only returned from his most recent trip to Ukraine 12 days ago, said: "I saw it first-hand, their shelves were bare already before the war had even started. So there is a desperate, desperate need for this.

"The Ukrainians are in absolute shock that this is happening. It is so important for their morale to know that they are not on their own."

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The family will use its contacts within the Lviv City Council, who will meet supply trucks at the Ukrainian border to ensure they reach injured soldiers and civilians.

Mr Jensen's daughter Emily Jensen-Balderstone, who set up the fundraising page, said: "We are really close to our whole team in Ukraine.

"The farm is only 70km from the Polish border. On the first day of the invasion, our village school closed so they could take refugees from Kiev and eastern Ukraine. The next day there was shelling 15km away and people have been killed within 30km of the farm.

"Our farm manager Roman is staying strong, but the younger tractor drivers will be called up. Our interpreter has got two young daughters and her husband is basically on night watch looking out for Russians. It is really scary, even that far west.

"I have got a two-year-old myself and I am having another baby next month. So it is just horrible to think about it. You can't imagine it, living in Norfolk, being totally under attack and totally helpless. It is unimaginable."

She thanked the family's surrounding village and farming community, which has helped raise the money and collect vital supplies.

Having rapidly passed the initial fundraising target of £10,000 for emergency medical aid, Mr Jensen said any money raised above that figure will be distributed among humanitarian charities which they have direct contact with in western Ukraine.