The Bill star swapping policing for ambulance driving to help efforts in Ukraine

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Bruce Byron might be better known as DC Terry Perkins from The Bill - but he's swapped policing for ambulance driving as part of a project helping the war effort in Ukraine.

A fleet of second hand vehicles have been bought by a charity set up by Gloucester businessman Khaled El Mayet, 38 and from Cheltenham.

The former NHS vehicles - which were funded by donations - are being driven by volunteers and handed over to overseas doctors.

Now actor Bruce Byron is joining the charity by driving one of four ambulances to Ukraine.

Bruce said he became involved with the charity while bored because acting projects were put on hold during Covid and a friend put him in touch with the charity.

He said: "She said to me 'I know someone that might be able to use your skills at driving, sending ambulances down to the Ukraine would you like to do it?'

"I said 'count me in.'"

The latest ambulances to be sent to Poland also contain messages to Ukrainian refugees created by children at St Mary's Catholic Primary school in Penzance.

Bruce has had considerable driving experience in his acting roles. He says he drove police cars, trucks, motorbikes and even rode a horse.

"I think I might get a job on a hospital show now," he said.

Children from St Mary's Catholic Primary school in Penzance have written messages for refugees in Poland.

Bruce and the team face a long drive, but they say they it is a mission they would not miss for the world.

"I don’t have anxiety per se (about going). Obviously before you start out on something like this, you’re a little bit, well not anxious, but you do want to go.

"I’ll try not to overthink this stuff, just try not to overthink it, it’s like my work. I’ll try not to overthink my filming days or whatever, and  just go with the flow.  And these are great people they’ve done it before."But it’s heartbreaking that we have to send stuff stuff to help the little kids their dads or mums who are affected or hit by bombs I’m lost for words sometimes I really am.

Khaled El Mayet says having Bruce on board has really helped.

"He’s helped out in other ways to get some Sat phones, some CB radios and all sorts," he said.

"The awareness that’s been raised around this has been amazing."

Cornwall Paramedics Faye and Carrie Durrant from Penzance - who work for the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust - have already been on one trip, and are going again.

On their first visit they said the most shocking moment was when they met refugees in Poland.

Carrie said:"We could see the fear in the parents eyes more so than the children, they just look bewildered and not knowing what was going on, but the parents, you could really see the fear in their eyes."

Speaking about his fellow drivers, Bruce said: "There’s a great camaraderie, and yeah I’m looking forward to that, it’s always the people.  It’s like the job I do, it’s like the job you do,  we work with people we are 'people people' and so without that there’s nothing."