Gateshead man set to drive to Ukraine capital with Christmas present donations

A businessman from Gateshead is returning to Ukraine to deliver Christmas present donations.

In less than three weeks' time, Ed Blackbird will be visiting the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, arriving on Christmas Eve.

He previously drove 1300 miles in a campervan to deliver aid to Ukrainians fleeing war in March this year.

Mr Blackbird said: The temperatures are getting really cold now. Today it was -2 and I just thought let's take a little bit of love from Geordie land.”

"So, we need Christmas presents for children, teenagers and mums and dads.

"We have got a team coming up from a football team in South Shields. They are going to help wrap things. Everything is important for these people.

Svitlana Moroz, a lawyer from Kyiv, now lives in Gateshead after fleeing with her husband and daughter. This will be their first Christmas away from Ukraine where she says people are desperate for help.

Ms Moroz said: "It is vitally important now because people have no heating, water, electricity... nothing. They very much appreciate these toys. Many children have nothing.

It is very important to feel that somebody from another part of the world is trying to help you. It is about kindness. Mr Blackbird will head to Kyiv from Gateshead on 21 December and will arrive in Kyiv on Christmas Eve. When he arrives, he will be met by Paul Hodgson.

Mr Hodgson is originally from Washington but he now lives in Kyiv where he runs a charity supporting Ukrainians. Together, the pair will hand out donations.

He said: "When you get somebody from your part of the country over, it is quite nice to see them and to help.

"There is alot we can show him here. In the places we are going to deliver, we can give him an idea of what it is like over here."

Before heading to Kyiv, Mr Blackbird is raffling prizes to raise money. They include a donation from Newcastle United owner Amanda Staveley.

Mr Blackbird said: "I reached out to Amanda yesterday with my begging cap on. I asked if she could help. Within 17 minutes, she sent an email saying 'yes, no problem,' so we have now got 4 tickets and that will raise good money."