Axair’s 2023 Fundraiser: Ambulances for Ukraine

Since its incorporation in 1992, Axair has situated itself as a forward thinking, humanistic and philanthropic organisation. Charity initiatives have included community and environmental work, multiple charitable marathons runs, hair donations, gift donations, food bank contributions and sponsorship of many of our customers sports teams. In early 2023, Axair and a small group of likeminded companies discussed the next initiative in depth and chose to support the Ukrainian medical transportation crisis. Since Russia's war on Ukraine it is reported that there have been over 500 attacks against Ukraine's health care which has had a devastating effect on the medical transport capacity of the country’s health system. Support from the UK is a powerful and vital tool in sustaining the country’s entire medical system during and post wartime. Spurred on by one of our teams Ukrainian doctor, who was more than happy to give us the information we needed to start the initiative, we set on a plan to make our vision happen.    

The Plan 

As part of the global ongoing humanitarian efforts to save lives and reconstruct the health system in Ukraine. Team A4UKWE planned to raise enough funds to enable the purchase, service and maintenance, and transport logistics of three ambulances to the boarder of the Ukraine. The combined team target was initially set to £30,000 which we’re delighted to announce, was successfully achieved in late August. Contributions continue to roll in even now, with additional donations being made directly to Ukrainian British Aid on our behalf. A second journey may well be on the cards if additional donations reach a level that makes the journey, maintenance, and additional vehicle possible. If you wish to donate right now, you can visit our fundraising page here. The three ambulances won’t be empty either, additional contributions from generous companies mean that books, clothes, soft toys, and medical equipment alongside other items, have been loaded and waiting their final destination.


Axair Fans Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine
Axair Fans Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine


Getting the Message Out

It’s been a wild few months of word of mouth, fundraisers, event stands, bucket collections, supermarket bag packing, hosting quizzes at local community centres and sports halls, and posting flyers across local towns to ensure our message was widely heard. Our initiative was even featured on Radio Northwich during the Current Affairs Programme hosted by Mike Cooksley. An experience none of us expected we would do in our lifetimes, so that’s one off the bucket list for sure.


Train for Ukraine

Obviously Axair wanted to make this a full team effort, so after rallying up the troops of in-house engineers, marketing, sales, admin, warehouse, and finance we chose to “Train for Ukraine”, a 3-day marathon that would see our team cross train for 24 hours. The rest of the team who didn’t feel up to it, acted as their greatest hype team, supporting, encouraging and ensured the cross trainer was appropriately fed and watered. On 7th, 8th and 9th June, the team completed the 24hour cross train-a-thon to raise a whopping total of £3,500 donations from our fantastic customer base.   

Where are we now?

The three ambulances were purchased in late August and were taken to M53 Ford in Ellesmere Port who kindly offered to service and MOT test them all as part of their contribution to the initiative, thanks so much guys, we really appreciate it. They have also been insured at a very fair cost by Equity Red Star. The Axair team, were delighted when our MD brought one of the ambulances for us all to nosey around at, just before it went off to start its new life benefiting those in the Ukraine.    


Axair Fans Raise Funds to Support the Transport of Ambulances to Ukraine
Axair Fans Raise Funds to Support the Transport of Ambulances to Ukraine


Engineering Enthusiasts

James Dobson, one of many engineering enthusiasts working at Axair, contributed further to the charitable initiative by donating his own time to repair the electrical and mechanical engine problems in an old, resurfaced generator donated by one of our connections. This could then be transported as an added value component to provide electrical power alongside the three medical vehicles.    

The Journey: Latest Updates

Day 1, Sunday 1st October 2023: The A4UKWE team started their journey to Ukraine in convoy on Sunday 1st October 2023. They left Weaverham at 7.30am and made good progress down England via the M6 and M1 reaching a very busy M25 by noon.  The journey continued, crossing Kent via M20 to Le Shuttle complex near Folkestone. After an hours delay and much interest taken at the UK Border Control, they were granted free pass through to Calais and stopped at Heverlee in Belgium until the following day.  

Day 2, Monday 2nd October 2023: It was another early start the following day to make their way through the morning traffic around Brussels and east towards Maastricht and Cologne and then on to Frankfurt. They stopped at Gera, which is on the eastern side of Germany about 30 miles south of Leipzig. Allowing time for a quick tour around the central area before having a well deserved evening meal in the town square.  So far the team have clocked up 400 miles and have just over 500 miles still to do.  

Day 3, Tuesday 3rd October 2023: The team made a sharp exit from the hotel in Gera on Tuesday morning after learning it was full of armed police due to a right-wing rally in the town. They drove out to the motorway, and stated that for a Tuesday, it felt like driving through a Ghost Town. So, no surprise they chose their tune of the day, the Specials hit; Ghost Town. They got back on the A4 passed Dresden with a view of the cathedral tower on the skylight and travelled just north of the Czech border through the German countryside. By mid-morning they had crossed the Polish border towards Wroclaw. From there, progress was slow due to road works and volume of traffic. They finally arrived at their overnight stop at Bochnia (just east of Krakow) at 6.30pm. With another day completed covering 430 miles, they took the opportunity to dine out where they tried the local dish of Golonka which is similar to a ham hock.  

Day 4, Wednesday 4th October 2023: On day 4, the team left at 6.30am to drive the ambulances the last 212km to their handover point at Przemyśl, about 5 miles from the border. They reported that the motorways were not so busy as they headed through the Polish countryside to the Polish town of Przemyśl. Upon reaching the town they were met by the representative of the British Ukrainian Aid at the railway station. The team stated that it was an emotional meeting as Paul Williams undertook the handover of the three ambulances, which made their way straight to the front to be aligned to the 417 Brigade. 


Managing Director at Axair Fans Leads 2023 Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine
Managing Director at Axair Fans Leads 2023 Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine


The team left via train to Rzeszów Airport for their flight back to Manchester. Flights and accommodation have be funded privately and not taken from the charitable initiative pot to ensure as much money has been injected into the cause. Our managing Director, Grant Edwards, whom drove one of the ambulances stated that 'It had been a privilege to be a part of the project and take on the responsibility of driving one of the ambulances across Europe 1,400 miles to where it will be well used'. This is an amazing tribute and we raised £33,000 in the end. We would like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has kindly donated and offered services to help us to complete this goal. And finally, a huge well done to all the companies involved, The County Group for your huge injection of fundraising activity and corporate matching policy, and especially to Paul Williams, the driving force behind the whole campaign, your injection of energy and motivation has led to the success, and we cannot thank you enough. Pictured below are the Ukrainian fighters from 417 battalion, ready to take the ambulances to the front line along with stretchers, which were a very important request from their battalion. More photos will follow once the ambulances have reached the front line. 


Axair Fans Complete 2023 Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine
Axair Fans Complete 2023 Charity Initiative - Ambulances for Ukraine


Now let’s see if we can raise even more and do it all again. If you would like to make a small donation to make this second trip happen, or follow our updates of the journey, visit our fundraising page here.