Weardale’s grandfather who brought aid to Ukraine issues urgent appeal

A County Durham grandfather bringing aid to fighting-stricken parts of Ukraine has urged people to keep donating to help those fleeing the war-torn country whose lives have been ruined .

Kevin Roddam, a 65-year-old retired engineer from Weardale, was first moved to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, delivering vans of clothes and food bought with donations.

Now on his third trip to the region, he is in Ukraine, providing desperately needed aid to civilians across the huge country to those rendered homeless by Russia’s invasion.

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The married grandfather worries about declining war coverage and people in the UK feel that life is returning to normal for Ukrainians.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s not over at all, it’s going to get worse and the aid is drying up.

“Please keep giving.

“Let’s continue to do what we have always done as a nation, as the caring group of people that we have always been and do what needs to be done.”

Grandfather Kevin Roddam, 65, from Weardale, County Durham, who helps refugees in Poland and across Ukraine. Photo: PA MEDIA

Mr Roddam, who has two sons, stays in daily contact with his wife Christine in the UK, and she tracks his movements using mobile technology.

Speaking near Lviv, he said: “I don’t hide anything from him. She knows I will always try to stay safe.

“I will try to make sensible decisions, but when you’re dealing with a crazy person in Russia like Putin, it’s difficult.

The Northern Echo: Women preparing food for the frontline whom their grandfather Kevin Roddam, 65, from Weardale, County Durham, encountered as they delivered aid across the Ukraine.  Photo: PA MEDIAWomen preparing food for the frontline whom their grandfather Kevin Roddam, 65, from Weardale, County Durham, met while delivering aid across Ukraine. Photo: PA MEDIA

“I am a husband, father of two sons and grandfather of three children, I intend to come back to see them, I am not emigrating here.”

Mr Roddam was battered by Covid-19 last year, even planning his funeral, and now believes his recovery was for a reason.

After watching television reports at the start of the war, he felt prompted to organize a refugee aid delivery to Poland, packing a load of food, clothing, sleeping bags and blankets in March.

The Northern Echo: Kevin Roddam, 65, from Weardale, County Durham, (second from right) who is providing aid across Ukraine, including to a center for blind people.  Photo: PA MEDIAKevin Roddam, 65, from Weardale, County Durham, (second right) who is providing aid across Ukraine, including at a center for the blind. Photo: PA MEDIA

Thanks to kind donors in the UK, Mr Roddam delivered bikes and computers to a refugee orphanage near Gdansk, Poland.

He has also provided aid to a center for blind refugees in Ukraine and provided aid to an area near the Dnipro river which is currently being bombed.

On this trip, he met a local woman who works from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. preparing meals for frontline soldiers.

Mr. Roddam added: “His team cooks up to 600 meals a day.

“She makes Ukrainian angels, made of yellow and blue stripes, and slips them into the pockets of ballistic vests at the front to keep soldiers safe.

“All the food is prepared as if they were preparing it for their own sons – it’s done with love.”

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