A British grandad delivering aid to areas of Ukraine devastated by fighting has urged the public to keep helping those whose lives have been wrecked by the war.
Kevin Roddam, a 65-year-old retired engineer from Weardale, County Durham, was initially moved to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, delivering van-loads of clothes and food bought with donations.
Now on his third trip to the area, he is in Ukraine, driving desperately needed aid to civilians across the huge country to people made homeless by Russia’s invasion.
The married grandfather is concerned that coverage of the war has dropped off and people in the UK are under the impression life is getting back to normal for Ukrainians.
He told the PA news agency: “This is not over by any means, it’s going to get worse and aid is drying up.
“Please, please keep on donating.
“Let’s keep doing what we have always done as a nation, as the group of caring people that we have always been, and do what needs to be done.”
Mr Roddam, who has two sons, keeps in daily contact with his wife Christine back in the UK, and she tracks his movements using mobile technology.
Speaking from near Lviv, he said: “I do not hide anything from her. She knows I will always attempt to keep safe.
“I will try to make sensible decisions, but when you’re dealing with a mad man in Russia like (President Vladimir) Putin, it’s difficult.
“I’m a husband, father of two sons and grandfather to three children, I do intend to come back to see them, I’m not emigrating here.”
Mr Roddam was struck down by Covid-19 last year, even planning his funeral, and now believes his recovery was for a reason.
After watching TV news reports at the start of the war, he felt moved to organise an aid delivery to refugees in Poland, packing a load of food, clothes, sleeping bags and blankets in March.
Now on his third trip, he has crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border eight times in three weeks, delivering aid to where it is needed.
He felt it was necessary to deliver what he can in person, as he had promised to people making donations that he would always ensure it arrived with the people who needed it.
Thanks to kind donors in the UK, Mr Roddam has delivered bikes and computers to a refugees’ orphanage near Gdansk, Poland.
He has also taken aid to a centre for blind refugees in Ukraine, and delivered aid to an area near the Dnipro river which is now being shelled.
On that trip, he met a local woman who works from 6am to 2am making meals for soldiers on the frontline.
Mr Roddam said: “Her team makes up to 600 meals a day.
“She makes Ukrainian angels, made with yellow and blue bands, and slips them in the pockets of the ballistic vests for the front line to keep the soldiers safe.
“All the food is made as if they are making it for their own sons – it is made with love.”
Mr Roddam sleeps in his van most nights, occasionally staying with friends or in cheap hotels, which he pays for himself, to have a shower and wash his clothes.
Eastern Europe is enduring a heat wave, making conditions even tougher.
He said: “If people at home think this is all over, they need to look at the live maps which show the fighting.
“The number of missiles coming into Ukraine is unbelievable and it is displacing more and more people, who are moving towards Poland.
“There’s a fear that there is going to be a real humanitarian outcry and there will not be the food to assist these people who have nowhere else to go.”
To find out more about his trips, and how to help, Mr Roddam can be found at www.facebook.com/kevin.roddam