Gateshead chef with 'incurable' blood cancer to help feed refugees on Ukrainian border in Moldova

Mark Gibbons, who will be traveling to the Ukrainian border to help feed refugees at a camp in Moldova. Credit: NCJ Media

A Gateshead chef who is battling cancer is set to travel to the Ukrainian border to help feed refugees.

Mark Gibbons, from Dunston in Gateshead, says he will fly to Romania before traveling to a refugee camp near the Ukrainian border in Moldova.

The dad-of-three, who was diagnosed with stage three follicular lymphoma around three years ago, felt compelled to help the people of Ukraine after seeing the devastation caused by the war.

He said: "It's heartbreaking. What hit home for me was when I heard 21 Ukrainian children were being brought to England for cancer treatment a few days ago.

"I have got stage three blood cancer myself so I know exactly what they are going through, and I know the pain they are going through."

Mark has been in contact with Newcastle councillor Nicu Ion, who has been delivering aid to help Ukrainian refugees in Chernivtsi, a city close to the Romanian border in western Ukraine.

The 46-year-old was initially supposed to travel to the Ukrainian border in Poland with the charitable group Sunflower Aid Ukraine on Tuesday morning (15 March).

However, with the help of Councillor Ion, Mark will now be meeting up with other Geordies who are currently working at a refugee camp in Moldova.

Mark, who worked as a chef for nearly 20 years until he was diagnosed with cancer, said: "People think I'm crazy for wanting to go. But I feel like I have a lot to give.

"I have no problem going to a refugee camp and cooking for people, I feel it is the least I can do.

He added: "The camps are struggling massively now that thousands are crossing the border.

"If me standing there and serving up plates of food will help people then that's exactly what I'm going to do."

During the pandemic, Mark set up a community group called Dunston Help For Families, which supports people in the area with a food bank and community shop, which also has a café.

Although the trip has drawn concern from his family and friends, Mark says he is looking forward to helping those affected by the conflict.

"You have no idea. I'm so excited. I feel like a kid again!

"I know it's a dangerous environment, but if I didn't go and do my bit to help, I would regret it for as long as I live."