Gateshead businessman taking 'Geordie love' as he delivers Christmas presents and aid to Ukrainians

Ed Blackbird and Tom Sykes unfurl a banner dedicated to those who made the donations happen. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Thousands of pounds worth of donations have been made for Ukrainians caught up in the war with Russia, as a Gateshead businessman sets off on his second aid trip to the country.

Ed Blackbird, who owns a blind business in Gateshead, is travelling over to mainland Europe and will deliver the goods to Ukrainians in Kyiv over the Christmas period.

He previously transported aid to the Poland-Ukraine border in the early days of the war in March.

  • Video report by Kris Jepson.

Ed Blackbird told ITV News Tyne Tees, he was going one step further this time. He said: "Nobody is scared of the situation down there. I think people’s mental health down there, the things that these people need, they are in desperate need of help, so that’s why we are going down."

Mr Blackbird and the team have been overwhelmed by the response. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

"I think going into Kyiv, it’s going to be incredibly emotional but Christmas is a special time for everybody, so we’re just trying to take a little bit of Geordie love down there," he continued.

"We’ve got thousands of Christmas presents that have been wrappers up from a football club in South Shields and also lots of other people, lots of friends have been coming in on Sunday, over the weekend, all wrapping up individually. We’ve got infants children, teen-agers and adults so everybody will be given a Christmas present that we meet."

Thousands of pounds have been donated in cash from local companies and hundreds of aid items, including toiletries, nappies, generators and heaters have been collected too.

Daughter, Samantha Blackbird, said the community response has been "phenomenal". She said: "We've had cash donations, obviously the raffle and the auction that we had.

"We had stuff donated for that. We’ve had nappies, medical supplies, clothes, sleeping bags, obviously the temperatures down there are plummeting to -7C so they’re greatly appreciated as well."

Mr Blackbird shuts the doors on one of the four vans heading towards the war zone. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

One box carried 32 small toys with a short message inside for the children who will receive them, which said "this is a gift from me to you, to let you know I am thinking of you at this time".

The team delivering the aid said they have been steered by their contacts on what else is needed.

Tom Sykes, who is making his first trip to the country, said: "Seeing what they haven’t got, you know two days ago they had power out for 20 hours.

"We started at looking at just taking across gifts and Christmas presents, but when we hooked up with We Ukrainians, the charity, to realise they don’t have anything, you know, from toilet roll to sanitation, to baby powder, milk.

"So we’re taking a tremendous amount of donations across from generators to nappies and everything in-between, even water."