THE Oxfordshire firefighters who led a convoy of 22 fire engines to Ukraine have returned from their 'sobering' journey. 

Firefighters Andy Ford, Mark O’Connor and Steve Potter spoke to this paper about the experience, and their hopes to do more in the future. 

The trio set off from Oxfordshire on April 19 in a 4x4 being donated to Ukraine by Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, packed with cuddly toys donated by locals. 

READ MORE: Oxfordshire firefighters set off on journey to get aid to Ukraine

Oxford Mail: Oxfordshire 4x4 leads the Fire Aid convoy to Poland-Ukraine border..Oxfordshire 4x4 leads the Fire Aid convoy to Poland-Ukraine border..

The convoy arrived safely on Sunday evening, and the firefighters touched down on UK soil at around 3.30pm yesterday (April 26). 

Banbury Watch Manager Mark O'Connor said: "It was an amazing journey. All the engines are there and being delivered to Ukraine, probably as we speak.

“A few teddies were given out at our destination in Poland and the rest were taken over the border into Ukraine. They were absolutely thrilled with it so that was fantastic."

Oxford Mail: Steve Potter, Andy Ford and Mark O'Connor (Left to Right) touch down in UK. Steve Potter, Andy Ford and Mark O'Connor (Left to Right) touch down in UK.


READ MORE: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue vehicle leads convoy to Ukraine

After joining the rest of the convoy of vehicles being donated to Ukraine as the second wave of help being sent by the company Fire Aid, the Oxfordshire 4x4 was chosen to lead the whole group.

This decision was made by Fire Aid coordinator Mike Pitney, also a firefighter, who rode with the trio and is making sure the remaining donated teddies get to Ukraine. 

Oxford Mail: The Oxfordshire firefighters give Mike Pitney a gift for his hard work. (Pictured second to the left)The Oxfordshire firefighters give Mike Pitney a gift for his hard work. (Pictured second to the left)

On the journey itself, Mr O'Connor said: “They said it would be something we’d remember forever, and I know I won’t forget it. 

“It was quite a moment when we get to the destination and see this missile launcher and everything.

"I have never been in a country that is at war or close to one so it was very sobering.”

READ MORE: Oxfordshire firefighters arrive at Ukraine-Poland border with Fire Aid

The father-of-two said he can't wait to get back to his family and to see his dog.

Oxford Mail:

Steve Potter is excited to get back to his six-year-old son. 

He said: "I’m feeling pretty tired but feeling pretty great to be honest that we made it. I can sleep tonight.

"When we got there, we didn’t say anything and there wasn’t a huge fanfare. Doing it was good enough.”

"That caring from the people who are doing the same jobs as you internationally really stuck with me. It is a big family really.”

Oxford Mail:

Father-of-two Andy Ford is looking to get back home to a 'nice cup of tea', but highlighted that it's important not to forget the horror of the war in Ukraine.

He said: "In Ukraine they are losing fire fighters, fire stations and fire equipment.

"The fact that we were able to get the convoy from Kent to Poland without any major hiccups was great. I think that is what’s so brilliant about the fire service, everyone does what they have to do.

"That is what we do as a community, we help."

Oxford Mail:

The fuel for the fire engines was funded by the UK government, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson voicing his support for the convoy. 

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