Downton and The Goat support Ukraine

One evening at the beginning of March, regulars at The Goat pub, George Syrett and David Williamson-Jones, were discussing what they could do to help the Ukranian people affected by the Russian invasion. By last orders they had formulated a plan to take essential supplies to the Ukrainian border in Poland. They discussed the idea with the pub’s co-owner Karolina Korys-Jones, who added some helpful suggestions and insight of how they could navigate her home country of Poland and what to expect and prepare for.

The next morning they shared their plan with the local community on social media and by word of mouth, asking for donations of useful items for Ukrainians. Downton and nearby villages responded and soon there was a constant stream of deliveries. The Goat’s snug area was dedicated to storage, and soon became full.

Karolina said: “It went crazy! There were deliveries non-stop. We would wake up, open the doors and all sorts would be there.”

As well as donating their belongings, many people bought top quality and brand new items to donate. Karolina helped to organise travel and accommodation and connect with relatives in Poland. She also bought George and David a Polish for Dummies book and CD to listen to in the van (but she doesn’t think they used it).

By Thursday it was clear that one van was not going to be enough. Wessex Care and Nationwide Engineering loaned two extra vans and Downton Tyres renewed four tyres on a van for free.

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Along with donations,the team set up a Justgiving page, which at time of writing has raised more than £22,000.

The convoy of vans set off on that Friday with a first night in Antwerp.  The following night they stayed in Krakow and made it to Przemysl (ten miles from the Ukrainian border) the next day. They gave two mothers and three young children a lift to Kassel on their way to Switzerland.

They unloaded all the vans successfully and were met with open arms by Polish locals. They were able to help some families in Przemysl by paying for taxis to their destinations with some of the donations. George’s brother took two mothers and a boy to Paris where they will stay until a Visa is granted by the UK for them to live in Downton. Hopefully the little boy, aged six will be able to join Downton Primary School. Karolina has offered work at The Goat to the women if they need it.

By 10th March they made it back to The Goat for a heroes’ welcome. Karolina said: “I want to thank everyone involved and who donated for all you’ve done. I’m also so proud of the Polish people and their hospitality. Polish people have been through a lot and have had to leave their country and ask for help during wartime. They were helped and now they are helping.”

Donations are still being welcomed at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/david-williamsonjones