Lorries packed with donations for displaced Ukrainians set for Poland

People in Thetford came together over the weekend to sort donations for Chris Riches Transport.

People in Thetford came together over the weekend to sort donations for Chris Riches Transport, as they prepare to deliver them to Poland. - Credit: Neil James Media

The people of Thetford have gone the extra mile to help Ukrainians who have fled the conflict.

Hundreds of volunteers helped load trucks with donations before the convey set off to the war-torn country's border.

The donations include everything from blankets to personal products. 

Volunteers helped load two trailers full of donations at Chris Riches Transport after the company became overwhelmed with supplies for the Ukrainian people.

Around 100 people were seen on Saturday and Sunday to help Chris Riches Transport with donations for Ukrainian refugees.

Around 100 people were seen on Saturday and Sunday to help Chris Riches Transport with donations for Ukrainian refugees. - Credit: Chris Riches

Chris Riches and his wife Liana had initially set out to support Waites and Stones, in Swaffham, with its efforts in collecting and shipping out supplies for the Ukrainian people.

But just days later, the companies had coordinated a huge project in response to the amount of donations it was receiving.

Chris Riches and his wife Liana Riches. They are part of a family-run haulage company in Thetford. P

Chris Riches and his wife Liana Riches. They are part of a family-run haulage company in Thetford. Photo: Emily Thomson - Credit: Emily Thomson

They now plan to personally drive the lorries over to Poland with the help of Norfolk Polonia CIC in Norwich.

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Around 100 people descended on the transport company's yard each day last weekend to help.

Roy Brame, chairman of Breckland Council, also visited over the weekend to thank organisers and volunteers for their efforts.

Mr Riches said: "We opened our yard thinking a few people would turn up. We were blown away. We had people queuing at our gates to help.

"We quickly became swamped.

Volunteers came together over the weekend at Chris Riches Transport to help sort through donations.

Volunteers came together over the weekend at Chris Riches Transport to help sort through donations. - Credit: Chris Riches

"We just want to praise the local people. The generosity and kindness has been amazing, and all the teamwork is something we will remember for the rest of our lives."

He hopes to be able to leave Norfolk on Saturday, March 12 once they receive a licence to allow them to travel, and estimates it will take around two to three days to reach the border.

Ian Odgers, who has helped set up drop-off centres across Norfolk, has also been involved in the efforts.

He said he was "moved by the generosity of everyone concerned" and thanked people for their support.

Dereham's super marathon man Ian Odgers is heading towards the 200 mark. Picture: Ian Odgers

Ian Odgers has helped coordinate a huge response for Ukraine in Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

Terry Jermy, Norfolk county councillor and Thetford town councillor,  said the response from residents has been "incredible", adding: "Thetford has such fantastic community spirit and I am pleased, and proud, that we have collectively been able to provide this help and I am sure there will be more help forthcoming."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Mr Riches in delivering the donations.

To donate visit https://gofund.me/4fd67e78 

Roy Brame, chairman of Breckland Council with Chris and Liana Riches, who will be transporting local donations to Poland.

Roy Brame, chairman of Breckland Council with Chris and Liana Riches, who will be transporting local donations to Poland in their lorry to support refugees. - Credit: Breckland Council

Roy Brame, chairman of Breckland Council met with the team at Waites and Stones in Swaffham.

Roy Brame, chairman of Breckland Council met with the team at Waites and Stones in Swaffham. The team will be taking a lorry over to Europe to support refugees. - Credit: Breckland Council

Donations at Chris Riches Transport full were loaded up into two lorries, ready to be driven to Poland this week.

Donations at Chris Riches Transport full were loaded up into two lorries, ready to be driven to Poland this week. - Credit: Chris Riches

One of the lorries containing donations that will be driven to the Ukraine border.

One of the lorries containing donations that will be driven to Poland. - Credit: Chris Riches

The workshop at Chris Riches Transport full with donations.

The workshop at Chris Riches Transport full with donations. - Credit: Chris Riches