From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize ‘train and equip’ aid runs to Ukraine

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize ‘train and equip’ aid runs to Ukraine

Almost a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, “Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud; it stands tall; and most important — it stands free,” as US President Joe Biden recently said after his surprise visit to the capital of Ukraine. Under the massive and heavy attacks by Russian terrorists, countless atrocities, and war crimes, the Ukrainian spirit is high, and the courageous Ukrainian Army keeps fighting even in the tough conditions on Bakhmut, Lyman, Kupiansk, Avdiivka, and Shakhtarsk fronts.

It couldn’t be possible without tremendous support from international partners and a huge wave of assistance from citizens all around the globe from the very beginning of the full-scale invasion until now.

And this story is about three citizens of the UK with a military background, Tim Simpson, Rupert Granville, and Richard Yates, which responded to the aggression by quick humanitarian support, fundraising, and organizing the three trips to Ukraine (in 2022 and 2023) delivering over £250K of equipment with the aim to help civilian and military first responders to save lives.



Tim Simpson: “We were outraged by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We were inspired by the bravery and commitment of the Ukrainian people and wanted to do something to try and help.”


Photo by Hermês Pichon
Photo by Hermês Pichon


Just after the 24th of February, 2022, the UK citizens Tim Simpson and Rupert Granville, directors at Helstone Rose Ltd, and Richard Yates, the Business Development Manager at a prestigious wine merchant in London, started their mission to support Ukrainians. They prioritized key direction of campaigns:

  1. provide practical support and solidarity to the brave people of Ukraine.
  2. helped civilian and military first responders to save lives.
  3. raise and maintain international awareness of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Rupert Granville: “Due to our military background, we have a first-hand understanding of the value of life-saving first aid skills as well as some insight into the damage war inflicts on children. Consequently, our focus is on pre-hospital trauma care and the plight of refugee children.”


Photo by Hermês Pichon
Photo by Hermês Pichon


Comrades gained several partner organizations who are supporting their efforts, including:

  1. Logistics and operational safety: Veteran’s Army
  2. Support to fundraising and equipment procurement: Citizen Aid
  3. A seemingly endless supply of teddy bears: The Teddy Trust
  4. Many cans of a one-off brew of Resist Anti-Imperialist Stout: Stewart Brewing


Humanitarian trips to L’viv

Since then, the team has started by raising money on Crowd Funder and after very quickly achieving £15K, enabling them to

  1. part-fund a medical instructor to deploy to Ukraine, and
  2. to purchase the first shipment of medical equipment for our first run into Ukraine.


During the first trip to Lviv, Rupert and Tim delivered medical training to a US humanitarian organization and distributed Teddy Bears to refugee children who were being evacuated from war-torn regions of Ukraine to western Europe. Throughout this process, they have been in continuous contact with the First Secretary at the Ukrainian Embassy in London, Мг. Dmytro Tretyakov. And since then, Tim, Rupert, and Richard have been involved in many fundraising activities that raised money for further two ‘train and equip’ aid runs to Ukraine.


From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize 'train and equip' aid runs to Ukraine


During the last year and January 2023, the Britons have been responsible for delivering over £250K of equipment, including pre-hospital trauma packs, hospital medical equipment, bomb disposal equipment, body armour and helmets, generators, candles, hundreds of Teddy Bears and, more lately, cold weather clothing and equipment.

Richard Yates: “We have received funding from individuals, corporate organizations, and well as from other charitable foundations, which have all been based in the UK. The most recent trip was funded by proceeds from a dinner held on Holburn Viaduct in the City of London and was supported by one of the top five London law firms, a premium catering company, and a prestigious wine merchant.”

The dinner was coordinated by Richard Yates and was a stunning success. In addition to the fund-raising dinner, the campaign received donations and raised over £42K. So, after that, the team started planning the third trip to Ukraine.


Winter 2023: From Wales to Poltava

Both two previous trips in 2022, focused on locations in and around Lviv, were based on the same humanitarian principles of ‘train and equip’ in pre-hospital trauma care as well as teddy bears for displaced children.

Rupert Granville: “There is no doubt that the major aid agencies excel at channeling huge amounts of money into major projects. However, we have also proven that genuine and significant benefits can be derived from delivering life-saving equipment and training to where it is needed the most; at the point of use.”

The third aid run took place from 26th January to 6th February 2023 and started from Wales. Tim, Rupert, and Richard loaded the equipment on a box trailer towed by a land cruiser and started the 4000-mile round trip:


From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize 'train and equip' aid runs to Ukraine
Photo by Hermês Pichon


  1. pre-hospital trauma care equipment, mainly in the form of individual first aid kits (IFAKs) that assist a first responder in clinical interventions that address catastrophic bleeding, airway management, and breathing as per the <C>ABCDEEE protocol and TCCC guidelines.
  2. key equipment, the IFAKs included tourniquets, haemostatic dressings, compression bandages, nasopharyngeal airways, and CPR masks.
  3. cold weather jackets which help to keep an individual warm when the temperatures drop to between -5 and -10
  4. chemical hand and feet warming devices.
  5. Teddy Bears


They stayed overnight at The Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London and drove via the Channel Tunnel to the Mohnesse Dam in Germany.

After departure to Krakow and meeting with Ryan Yates & his team from Veterans’ Army who had been tasked to provide logistic support and operational safety in-country, the team swapped vehicles prior to the border crossing and prepared for the next part of the journey in Ukraine.

The next stops were Rvina and then Poltava to meet up with the interpreter from the Ukrainian Army Aid Foundation and other aid supporters who had local knowledge and contacts. Together with Andrew Pryma the founder of Ukraine Business News (UBN), they had organized the accommodation in Poltava and coordinated with the military unit that we were going to support on this occasion.

Tim Simpson: “The following day was spent distributing the medical equipment and cold weather clothing as well as conducting a series of training sessions for the unit’s combat medics focusing on haemorrhage control and techniques to establish and maintain an airway in an unconscious casualty.”

After completing that mission, they moved back to Kyiv, where delivered more medical equipment and similar training for an organization called Cargo 200 (Operation Black Tulip), working in conjunction with Legenda Archaeology, to find, recover and repatriate or bury the war dead.  For sure, It’s one of the incredibly important and hazardous roles that is underfunded and underreported.


From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize 'train and equip' aid runs to Ukraine
Photo by Hermês Pichon


In addition, Tim, Rupert, and Richard also dropped off hundreds of Teddy Bears to be handed out to displaced and orphaned children.


What’s next

After each trip, they consider what went well, what aspects could be improved, and how to deliver even more effectively, with greater precision and efficiency. 

Richard Yates: “We are currently planning for the next trip! And it will take place as soon as we are able to raise sufficient funds. The reality is that all of our efforts are entirely reliant on our ability to pay for medical supplies and the logistics required to deliver it, and the training, into the hands of people that need them.”

The UK Friends of Ukraine keep covering several directions:

  1. work with the Ukrainian Embassy in London and a number of foreign charities providing medical support to both civilians and the military.
  2. work directly with the military in Ukraine and a number of charities providing humanitarian aid and support to children.
  3. fund a significant amount of medical equipment to be delivered to a hospital near Lviv.

These humanitarian missions by Tim Simpson, Rupert Granville, and Richard Yates are great examples of the unwavering and unflagging commitment of the international community to stand with Ukraine, providing tremendous support for the war-torn country on the ground, enhancing the capabilities of Ukrainians to defend, protect and win in this unprovoked and criminal Russian war against Ukraine.


From Wales to Poltava: How UK citizens organize 'train and equip' aid runs to Ukraine
Photo by Hermês Pichon


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