Hero truck driver travels 2000 miles to deliver vital aid from Lanarkshire parishioners to Ukranian war refugees

An East Kilbride truck driver returned home to a hero’s welcome after travelling over 2000 miles to deliver humanitarian aid for St Bride’s Church’s Ukrainian war refugee appeal.

Kevin Quinn made the mercy mission in a truck donated free of charge from his son Kevin Gaffney’s local firm, SG Plant Hire.

Polish parish priest Fr. Rafal Sobieszuk is coordinating an aid collection for Ukranian refugees who have escaped Russia’s invasion to his homeland in Eastern Poland.

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Hailing Kevin a “local hero,” Fr. Rafal told Lanarkshire Live : “Kevin is well known in our local community and definitely our own local hero now.

“He drove over 1600 miles one way in just over two days and also sailed 16 hours.

“He came back safely to East Kilbride on the following Monday. He parked his lorry near the church, and it was wonderful to see our mission has been accomplished.”

Kevin and Charlie start to unload the lorry filled with humanitarian aid

The first lorry load carrying over eight tonnes of essential supplies arrived in Siedice, Eastern Poland on March 18, where the donated goods were distributed to Ukranian refugees by local Catholic charity, Caritas Siedice.

Fr. Rafal joined Kevin and his 14-year-old son Charlie who also made the long haul journey to the Polish capital Warsaw to ensure the goods arrived safely.

Their mercy mission even made headline news on Polish TV.

Religious figures from across the town have lent their support with Fr. Dominic Quinn from St Leonards Church, Our Lady of Lourdes parish priest Fr. Frank Dougan, Fr. Romanus Enyinnia of St Vincent De Paul’s and Rev Anne Paton at East Kilbride Old Parish Church also helping with the drive.

Fr Rafal presents the driver with a memorial t-shirt displaying St Bride’s Church’s solidarity with Ukraine

And generous parishioners dug deep for the ongoing appeal to help cover the costs of packaging and transportation, raising a whopping £8000 in one weekend.

Kevin, a grandad-of-eight and father-of-eight, said he “felt good” for being able to do his bit for the war-torn country.

“It’s a terrible state of affairs, just so sad to see wee kids walking around a warzone”, he told us.

“My son Charlie has been so shocked by it all and wanted to do his bit as well so he came on the journey with me as my navigator.

Fr Rafal and driver Kevin Quinn are interviewed by TV news crews on arrival in Poland

“I told him how close to home it really is, you think it’s far away but it’s only 2000 miles that way.”

Kevin, a former pupil of St Bride’s High, added: “A friend of mine is a parishioner at St Bride’s and asked if I would take the load out.

“We sailed to Amsterdam from Newcastle, drove through Holland and Germany into Poland to the Ukranian border where Polish TV news and the mayor met us.

“I’m going to go out again in a couple of weeks. My family are very proud.”

Coca-Cola EK stored the donations and supplied Coke and water pallets for the appeal

The appeal for Ukrainian war refugees started on March 2, with local churches received enough donations to fill an entire lorry in the space of the first two days.

Coca-Cola East Kilbride also pitched in by storing the donations in their warehouse and preparing them for transportation.

And the company generously donated two pallets of Coke and water for each lorry bound for Poland.

Pupils from St Andrew’s and St Bride’s High waved off a second lorry load last week, with more journeys planned in the weeks ahead.

Kevin heads off on the lengthy journey from his old high school

Fr. Rafal said: “I asked all our parishioners to gather outside near the lorry.

“It was fitting that they should witness this after all their very hard work over the two first weeks of March.

“Kevin was presented with a memorial t-shirt with the logo of our Ukrainian appeal. It was very emotional and deeply touching seeing the lorry leaving our church along with the Red Cross indicating its humanitarian mission painted on the sides of the vehicle.

“We had a great welcome in Poland and had some wonderful photographs taken and videos filmed. There were local press present and TV news crews who wanted to write about all our work.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in our Ukranian War Refugee Appeal, which became a great success.

“There were very many people and organisations which were involved in this appeal, I am very grateful for any contribution made.

“It was done with great enthusiasm, generosity and joy.”

You can make a donation to the appeal here.

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