Jedburgh man travelled to war zone to scope out what Ukraine needs

A businessman from Jedburgh who risked his life to try to help the Ukrainian people suffering under the onslaught of Vladimir Putin’s Russian army is now attempting to raise funds to ensure those most vulnerable people can get across the border into Poland.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 18th March 2022, 2:35 pm

Neil, 42, who served eight years in Northern Ireland, runs a groundworks company in Jedburgh, which carries out contracts for Scottish Borders Council.

At the start of the conflict in Ukraine, he made a decision to head over there to see if he could do anything to help, and caught a flight to Krakow from Edinburgh on March 4, and began travelling to the border with some other volunteers, where they helped to put up shelters for those fleeing the country.

Neil told us: “Once the Russians moved in and I saw people trying to get out, I just thought that with my background I could possibly help out at the border in some way. When I spoke to the Ukrainian Embassy in London, I told them I could go for three or four weeks to help out, and they said that would be fine.

Neil Broome (second left) with his fellow volunteers, head into the war zone.

"What they didn’t say was that the contracts you had to sign on the Ukrainian border stipulated that once you signed up, you couldn’t leave until the war was over."

However, Neil and his cohorts managed to cross the border as a unit and passed masses of people, both in cars and on foot, trying to get out of the war-torn country.

He said: “What struck me was the sheer number of children … there was bus after bus of them, their mothers and fathers apparently staying on to fight.”

They reached Lviv, where they spent the night sleeping on the floor of a church, before having to move to a bunker when the air raid sirens began.

Neil Broome.

They then went to the train station in Lviv, which Neil said was packed with people fleeing. Some had brought their pets, some of which had died on the journey across the frozen country.

However, Neil spoke to enough people to work out what was actually needed … medical transport in the form of ambulances and minibuses to help take the elderly and vulnerable residents out of the war zones, such as Kyiv and into Poland.

He said: “Money being sent there doesn’t seem to get them what they actually need.

"I have also been given a list of medical supplies as long as my arm that they are short on.”

The train station in Lviv, which Neil said was "crammed with refugees".

On returning to Scotland Neil set up a Go Fund Me page to raise as much cash as he can, and has so far raised £1,625 of a goal of £10,000.

He said: “We’ve got enough at the moment for a deposit on a bus, and we want to take as many items they are struggling to get, such as medicine, fuel for generators so they can stay warm as they queue at the border.

“I have contacts in Ukraine who can ensure the cash gets to the right people.”

To donate to the cause, visit https://gofund.me/6f27c475.