Golden Hearts 2 - Ukraine

Richard Yates overlooking cemetery with Ukranian flags

Back in October 2023 Ellis Wines and BM caterers in association with Hogan Lovells came together for the second time, for the Golden Hearts fundraising gala dinner in support of The Order of St George to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

This time we had our own van donated by Ellis Wines (as we move to electric vehicles), plus an Audi A5 support vehicle (team personal). We had load planned and loaded the Golden Hearts Vauxhall Movano van, which will now be available permanently – providing vital infrastructure for the drop locations on our trip. The total value of aid delivered was approximately £150K (£48K raised at the Golden Hearts gala dinner - for medical aid), £90k of ECG units secured by the OOSG, and a few thousand teddy bears, donated by The Teddy Trust.

Led by our own Richard Yates, the trip started in the city of London...

The journey was long; 4,700 miles travelled in total, London - Tunnel - France - Belgium - Netherlands - Germany - Poland to Rzesow (overnight) then to the Polish-Ukrainian border, then relatively quickly through the checkpoints after some confusion (90-minutes) and into Ukraine, with a first overnight stop in Rivne, where temperatures were a chilly -6°C!

Day 1 in Ukraine saw an early departure to Kyiv to meet our interpreter before a 9-hour journey south, visiting an air defence unit, and delivery of a majority of our medical kit and 2 ECGs, plus our first of four stops for training sessions, each seeing 20 persons at a time trained in bleed control (with pressure bandages, haemostatic gauze, and tourniquets), plus airway maintenance positioning of casualties.

Day 2 was a full day of training with a further three sub-unit groups. With the main Golden Hearts 2 trip’s aim completed, and as the last training session finished, an air raid siren and advice to move, with hasty good byes we departed. This left a residue of teddies (for the internally displaced children) and ECGs donated by Barts Hospital, we had nine in total (approx. £10k value each).

Day 3 saw an early departure to a Monastery where we were met by the Father (an English speaker) who described the situation of his town, which is heaving with internally displaced children. Here we were kindly provided with lunch, before offloading half the teddies and 3 ECGs for the local hospital.

Our last stop in Western Ukraine, near the Polish border, where through existing contacts from previous trips we dropped half the remaining teddies at a charity community hub, helping displaced women with children, and left the remaining ECGs which will be used in the local hospitals. We also met with an English 'unintentional' resident who has been in Ukraine since the start of the war, and personally teaches amputee veterans yoga to calm PTSD nerves with incredible results - more amputees were created in year 1 of the war than in the whole of WW1 in total!

Ukraine's future

It is clear that when this is all over, that the rebuilding of society (people returning home) and supporting War Veterans will be the main effort of all charitable organisations. From our first trip it is clear to see the people of Ukraine, are tired and strained, the Economy in ruins and cemeteries filling up, morale is lower, but there are still huge levels of determination.

The need is now more than ever and being prepared to “turn-up” is a visible boost to local morale and hope for Ukrainians.

By Richard Yates