Lloyd, manager of the local Spar in Tattenhall was back in work the next morning after returning from Poland. The week before, the group had left Chester with seven tonnes of donations in tow – including £1,000 worth of stock donated from the Spar.
Back in Tattenhall, Lloyd said: "I knew there were a lot of people coming over, but until you actually see it, the constant movement of people. It didn't feel real."
The night before, he'd returned from a 2,700-mile trip to Przemyl on the Ukrainian border, where 3,000 refugees arrive every two hours by train, and children sleep in the open in temperatures of -8°C. He and Claire Robinson had travelled to the Poland-Ukraine border, where they met Claire's daughter Chloe, who'd been working out there already.
Lloyd said: "We took a lot of sanitary boxes, a lot of medical and first aid boxes. There was initially a load of clothes and things, but that's not what they're really after. They've got blankets, they've got clothes; it's shampoo and things like that that they struggle for."
After unloading the van, the group went to a wholesalers, buying £3,000 worth of supplies with money raised on a GoFundMe page. A contact at the railway station gave them a shopping list of things the refugees needed.
"The trains coming to Przemyl station – it's just horrendous," Lloyd says. "The looks on their faces, the kids, people carrying their dogs and cats, it was just very sad. There were also big queues of people going from Poland to Ukraine........ getting supplies and then going back. Then you see, at the border, people were signing up for the legion to go and fight over there: Brits, Australians, Israelis; and minibuses taking people in. I found out after that they have to sign up to join the Ukrainian army for three years and hand their passports in."
He adds: "It was nice to see – when you give the kids a sweet – even just for a minute, they smile. Then we drew a big hopscotch thing on the station floor, we made them all play that sort of stuff as they were coming off the trains. We made the Polish police do it as well."
"It's beyond out there, it really is. It's the volume of people, it's the desperation in their eyes, it's the fear."
Congratulations to Lloyd, Claire and Chloe; and thanks to all who supported them. Continue supporting the Ukrainian appeals – there's plenty of opportunity locally and through the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.
(Images – Claire Robinson)