An evening reception for Help4Ukraine was held on 31st March in the sumptuous Library of the Travellers Club in London. Over ninety people came, including a visit by His Excellency Vadym Prystaiko, the Ambassador of Ukraine, who, in his moving speech, thanked everyone for their provision of ambulances and medical aid to the suffering people of Ukraine.

It was announced that the Department of Health and Social Care had agreed the day before to provide medical aid from NHS supplies to Help4Ukraine ambulances to deliver to Ukraine.

The initiator of Help4ukraine, Nicholas Monson, then formally introduced John and Irina Fuggles. Nicholas told the room that John had already driven ambulances in convoy into Ukraine and now had full support from members of the Help4Ukraine group to deliver more ambulances and aid.

In response, John told everyone how he reacted to the news of the Russian invasion. After a few days of anger, he said, he grew a constructive plan.

“I joined two good friends – he Russian she Ukrainian. We set up a group to buy ambulances, fill them with provisions then drive them into Ukraine. We did just that. On Saturday morning three ambulances were on my drive and another three by Wimbledon High School on Saturday. On Sunday, pedal to the metal, volunteer drivers and delivered them in Lviv.”

John said that on his return, he had heard about Nick’s group and how they had supported a separate team which delivered ambulances to Poland from Gloucestershire.

“Nick and I met two weeks ago. After ten minutes we had committed ourselves to keeping up the momentum. So we constructed a model of hopeful efficiency that, with a few more tweaks, will be about as good as it gets.”

Nicholas then introduced Irina, who explained, at the podium, how she had grown up in Kyiv, studied in Moscow, met John and married him.

She then spoke of the nature of the people of Ukraine.

“While we are warm and caring, we have hearts of steel. When you see Zelenskyy, boxers, football stars, ballerinas and singers taking up arms, when you see ordinary men and women – taking up arms; the West watches in amazement. This is just how we are, a strong people who want our own destiny.

“Everyone that fights now in Ukraine believes in freedom. The invaders do not know freedom. Everyone one of us who fights and everyone who supports us does so because…… that’s just what you do!”

She concluded: “We will not be defeated. But right now we are on our knees. Help lift us up.”

At the evening’s end, £15,000 was pledged.