Coventry funeral director returns from Ukraine aid trip ‘a changed person’

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Andy Hawkins

Andy Hawkins of Franklin and Hawkins Funeral Directors, Coventry, immediately rallied when the invasion of Ukraine first hit the news in the UK.

“There was no way we could sit at home watching this situation unfold without doing something to help in some small way,” says Andy.

Within a few hours his own home in the village of Fillongley, Warwickshire had turned into a major local donation point for receiving aid. Overwhelmed by the local response, within 24 hours Franklin and Hawkins set up the same at their two offices.

Within hours literally thousands of items had been donated to help the displaced citizens in Ukraine.

“Our staff and directors all rallied to sort the items and box them, in addition to our usual duties of caring for the families who have come to us for funerals. Working with the local Ukranian community and two other established charities we were able to send our aid with them.

“However, it was so important for me to see for myself the process of aid being distributed so with this support I set about the long drive from Coventry to Poland. This was a turning point for me to actually see the desperate families arriving into the refugee camps carrying their only possessions in a few carrier bags: to see the aid workers on the ground handing them toiletries and toys for the children that will stay with me forever. I returned after a few days and nearly 3,000 miles a changed person.

“I now can see that every single item of donated aid is so essential. We were told that medical aid is essential so we are now trying in conjunction with our Ukranian friends to send aid over weekly.

“Our first load of aid left less than five days after we collected it: our next load was part of a collective convoy of two 7.5 tonne vehicles. When people work together, the job gets done.”

The Franklin and Hawkins team are also working with several local charities to ensure that aid will be in place for when the refugees start arriving in the UK.

If you can help, call Andy Hawkins on 079 5000 2000.