Donor to fill Knaresborough man’s lorry with hundreds toys for Ukraine
Last updated Sep 23, 2022
Bob Frendt on one of his trips to Ukraine

A truck driver who has been driving lorries full of aid to Ukraine since February said he has been overwhelmed by the response to his latest appeal.

Bob Frendt, 71, has just returned from his fifth trip to eastern Europe, delivering medical equipment to help Ukrainian nationals resisting the Russian invasion.

Before setting off, he revealed plans to take hundreds of toys to the country in November, to ensure children who had had a difficult year would have something to enjoy at Christmas.

As a result of his story appearing in the Stray Ferret, Mr Frendt was contacted by an individual – who asked for his identity not to be publicised – who donated £30,000 to fill the lorry with toys.

Mr Frendt said:

“I couldn’t believe it when he got in touch and said what he was going to do. That will fill the lorry and make a difference to so many children.”

He has been offered the use of a storage unit on York Road in Knaresborough, to enable him to collect everything he needs before his trip.

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On his most recent visit, Mr Frendt entered Ukraine for the first time, having previously only reached the Polish border to pass on vital equipment to aid teams.

With a lorry full of supplies donated by local firms Medequip and Andway, he visited a hospital inside the country. He said:

“The hospital is dreadful. I met the chief executive and the head of orthopaedics. When we lifted the back door up and saw what we’d brought, they just burst into tears.

“There were 45 mattresses and they said, ‘that’s 45 people who won’t be sleeping on the floor tonight’. We took zimmer frames and they said, ‘100 people can go to the toilet on their own, without having to wait for someone to help them get there’.

“Where we went, it’s like the London slums in the early 1900s. It’s dreadful. They haven’t got inside toilets, there’s a cold water tap at the end of the road and that’s it.

“This is without the Russians invading – it’s how they live normally.”

The contribution was so valued by Ukrainians, Mr Frendt was featured in a local newspaper while he was there.

Asked by the journalist why he kept returning to help, Mr Frendt said he couldn’t give an answer, other than to say he watched the situation unfold on the news and felt he had to do something. He added:

“It’s going to go on for years. I’ve got to do whatever I can.”

The hospital in Ukraine where Bob Frendt donated equipmentThe hospital in Ukraine where Bob Frendt donated equipment

Although the anonymous donor has supplied enough toys to fill his lorry for the Christmas trip, Mr Frendt is still keen to hear from anyone who would like to support his efforts.

As well as more toys, he’s collecting old technology including laptops, tablets and mobile phones to deliver to Ukraine, and is always happy to receive financial support for the £2,500 cost of each six-day trip.

He has also been asked to deliver specialist haemostatic bandages used to treat serious wounds, which cost £40 each, and he hopes he can raise more money to pay for them.

Mr Frendt’s fundraising was boosted by the donation of a while from a Porsche which had raced at Le Mans. It was refurbished by AWR in Knaresborough and turned into a glass coffee table by Harrogate Glass Solutions.

He had planned to raffle off the unusual piece of furniture, but was made an offer he couldn’t refuse by a private collector, and the proceeds have gone towards his next Ukraine trip.

After his November visit, he plans to go again in the spring with a further lorry-load of aid, once the worst of the winter weather has eased.

To donate to Mr Frendt’s efforts, click here to send him an email.