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Stroud man on Ukraine mercy mission

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A retired University boss is on a one-man rescue mission to help ferry Ukrainian refugees to safety.

Kind-hearted Richard O’Doherty, 63, who lives in Stroud, courageously drives a 400-mile round journey in his Fiat Ducato Tourer campervan on daily nine-hour mercy mission trips to carry displaced families from the border of Ukraine to Budapest in Hungary.

A former deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire, Richard had spent the last six months touring Italy, Spain, Portugal, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro before feeling compelled to help after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Richard told Stroud Times: “I’d been out for six months touring in my campervan and then the invasion happened and I was at a campsite in Budapest and felt I had to help.”

At the wheel of ‘Maurice’ the campervan, Richard has been overwhelmed by the gratitude of families who are suffering so much trauma and anxiety.

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Richard is on a one-man rescue mission to help ferry Ukrainian refugees to safety

He added: “At first people seem nervous to get in my campervan, but once they feel safe they’re over the moon and have smiles on their faces and I’ve had some huge bear hugs off them after arriving in Budapest.

“It must be very traumatic for them – some arrive with babies, small children, and even a pet cat, but I’m just happy to help and I can go from having tears in my eyes one moment to a feeling of elation the next when you see the relief in the peoples’ faces.”

Most of the 190,000 refugees in Hungary have arrived at Záhony station from Chop, Ukraine, and are given food, clothes, and medicine before catching free trains to Germany, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands.

To donate to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, click HERE

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