Karl and Mike’s humanitarian mission to ‘forgotten’ Ukraine

Our MD, Karl Pemberton signed up as ‘co-pilot’ back in January for local entrepreneur (and good friend) Mike Racz on his mercy-mission to Ukraine.

Mike’s (originally solo) mission was launched in late 2023, with the aim to raise £20,000 to buy and transport vital aid to those suffering from the repercussions of the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

The huge generosity of friends and businesses across Teesside saw hundreds of items, including warm clothing, blankets and toiletries donated and the target smashed, with £21,000 raised. This meant the duo could buy enough aid to fill a van plus two articulated lorries!

The mission was personal for Mike (pictured front, left) whose partner Kateryna comes from Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, and her family still live there.

Mike Racz, CEO of Racz Group, added: “As the world’s attention shifts to various global crises, it is important not to overlook the dire situation in Ukraine, where millions of people are facing an imminent humanitarian crisis. The country is in urgent need of supplies and relief, especially as the prospect of renewed conflict looms”

After their first trip ended in disappointment due to border issues in Poland, the duo dusted themselves down and headed off for a second time in late February.

Following a stressful and eventful drive over the Hungarian border into Ukraine, the duo finally made it to their destination of Lviv in complete darkness. Handing over the van and its contents it then made its journey to Kryvyi Rih, close to the frontline with desperately needed aid.

“The entire experience once in Ukraine was surreal, scary, and completely random. Spending the night in Lviv itself was also a strange experience and so sad to see such a beautiful city with so many historical buildings at risk of bomb damage. Naturally, the Army and Police are a regular sight, but to then be pulled over by the local police chief for a driving violation, plus also racing to catch the last train to Budapest by the skin of my teeth, certainly both sent my heart rate well above average!” said Karl

“Our Teesside business community is renowned for rallying for good causes. We were blown away by the generosity we have seen which will make such a huge difference to those in need in Ukraine”

Pictured are Mike (front left) along with Kateryna and family with Karl (middle, back)

Watch Karl’s video update here

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