Bus kitted out in Swindon as field hospital handed to Ukrainian Ambassador

By Barrie Hudson - 23 May 2023

Charity

Representatives of Swindon Humanitarian aid Partnership (SHAP) and Swindon’s Bus Company met in Westminster for a poignant ceremony.

They officially donated a bus which has been converted into a field hospital and is destined for Ukraine. 

The bus was handed over to His Excellency Vadym Prystiako, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom. 

Those present included SHAP chair Mike Bowden, Swindon’s Bus Company managing director Andrew Wickham and Christian Schreyer, chief executive of The Go-Ahead Group, which owns Swindon’s Bus Company.

Mr Bowden said: "SHAP was formed when Russia first invaded Ukraine. A small group of local people - Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian and British - met to learn about the desperate situation many in Ukraine found themselves in. We all wanted to ‘do something’ and the seeds of SHAP were planted. 

"Since then, we have delivered hundreds of tonnes of aid to either the Poland/Ukraine border or into central and eastern Ukraine. We’ve also been providing extensive support to refugee visitors arriving here. 

“All of our work is carried out by volunteers and relies upon donations from generous companies and individuals. With such a dire situation happening right now on the ground in Ukraine, the country is in need of mobile field hospitals to aid the recovery of civilians, and those risking their lives to defend their homeland. 

“We are indebted to Swindon’s Bus Company for the donation of a bus that allowed a group of committed local volunteers to convert a standard public service bus into a mobile medical facility for use in Ukraine. 

"It is hard to comprehend what our Ukrainian friends are having to endure but in the best British tradition all we can do is support them with all our might.”

Mr Wickham said: "We were approached earlier this year by SHAP, which was formed to help those both still in Ukraine and those who have become refugees in the UK. 

“SHAP representatives told us about the urgent need for mobile field hospitals in the war-torn country - and converted buses are perfect for this. It became instantly obvious how a bus could be used to help people out in Ukraine, so we were happy to donate one of our own vehicles. 

“This is the first of its kind - but the hope is that it has set a precedent, with many more buses from other operators set to follow this one to Ukraine.”

Mr Bowden said in a speech to the Ambassador and guests: "If it saves one life it will have been worthwhile, and you know, my sense is it might save many many lives.

"And what about the future? Well, we hope that this project will inspire other companies to donate buses. We have ideas aplenty - a primary care GP bus, a dentist or optician bus, a shower or toilet block bus - you get the idea.

"Bus Two will hopefully be underway very soon - a bus for children, a brightly coloured bus with toys and play mats and books in both English and Ukrainian.

"Children need to be allowed  to be children and spared the worst horrors of war. Exciting announcements are not far off - watch this space." 

More information about SHAP can be found at shapuk.org and about Swindon’s Bus Company at swindonbus.co.uk

 

 

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