Tents which have provided shelter for generations of Angus Guides are bound for Ukraine under the latest support for a farming-led humanitarian initiative.
Pick-ups for Peace has sent around 200 vehicles to the war-torn country in a phenomenal response from Britain’s farming community.
They are driven across Europe before being pressed into service to carry supplies and troops on the frontline.
The convoys are laden with other donated items ranging from diesel cans to winter jackets for troops fighting the Russian offensive.
And now Angus girlguiding tents will be part of the latest aid consignment.
Businessman has been on three Ukraine convoys
Forfar businessman Bob Ritchie has taken part in three Pick-ups for Peace convoys.
He said the Guides’ support was a welcome development.
“The Guides approached us and asked if we could use the six-man tents which they no longer needed.”
Some came from the Ladenford guiding centre near Forfar, the others from the 4th Montrose Guides
Autumn rains are expected in Ukraine soon.
The Guides say many refugees, especially in the east of the country are still without proper housing.
“These tents, although old, are sturdy and waterproof and we hope they will help the displaced people of Ukraine,” said the Guides.
Bob added: “There are 17 tents and we know that when they get these immobilised and erected they will certainly help.
“It is phenomenal the Guides are taking the initiative and they certainly deserve recognition for what they are doing.”
The director of renowned Forfar agricultural equipment manufacturer Ritchie has taken part in three Ukraine convoys.
It has driven home to the 67-year-old the value of the humanitarian effort.
“As a company, Ritchies have moved various things up and down the country to support Pick-ups for Peace,” Bob said.
“But I also wanted to take part in the convoys.
“I find all kinds of emotions going through me during the trip and after returning home.
“From a personal perspective there is a sense of fulfilment in being part of it.
“But there are also feelings of great sorrow and anger.
“On the first trip we finished up in a community in Lviv and I actually broke down – it really got to me.”
Charity showcased at farming events
“What it brought home to me is how close Ukraine is to the North Sea.
“It is little more than a day’s drive when you arrive in mainland Europe to get the pick-ups to where they are needed – and you are in the country which is at war.
“You return home on a flight to Edinburgh with stag parties who have been to places like Krakow and they are not thinking about how close they have been to this conflict.”
Business commitments have prevented Bob from being part of recent convoys, but Pick-ups for Peace has been promoted through the Ritchie stand at major agri events including the Royal Highland Show.
“I want to be in future convoys, but at the moment I think we are trying to do the right thing and muster as much help and support as possible.
“The Guides’ donation is part of that and we really appreciate their support.”
Response exceeds expectations
Angus farmer Mark Laird co-founded the project through his involvement with Central Plains Group.
It is a sustainable farming business with significant interests in Ukraine.
The charity reached out to the UK agricultural sector for old pick-ups and 4x4s which could play a vital role on the inhospitable, battle-scarred terrain of Ukraine.
Donated vehicles are checked in the UK, painted battle green and driven there by volunteers.
They are loaded with other kit which the Ukrainian forces have identified as crucial to operations.
Donations to the charity and a list of what equipment is needed is available on the Pick-ups for Peace website.