Home   Spalding   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Holbeach's Mandy Baxter says her life has been changed as a result of her work on the Ukraine war





On the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a Holbeach woman has told of her crusade to care for the people hit hardest.

Mandy Baxter began Boxes of Hope from her dining room where she filled shoeboxes with items to send over to those who needed them.

As the people of South Holland rallied round to support the Ukrainians, donated items overwhelmed her home - and Holbeach St Marks Village Hall.

Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622076)
Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622076)

“This has honestly changed my life,” she said.

“We moved into the old garden centre at Harold Payne’s site (in Fleet Hargate) when my house and the hall weren’t big enough. It’s just been amazing.

“People here have opened their homes to Ukrainians who are hearing that their families and friends have died.

“They are continuing to donate items, in fact we will soon be sending our twentieth 18 tonne lorry over to Ukraine full of items, many of which are going to the front line.

“It’s unbelievable but people in Ukraine actually know what Boxes of Hope is now.”

Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622073)
Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622073)
Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622068)
Mandy Baxter in Ukraine (62622068)

Mandy collects items from not only South Holland and Lincolnshire, but the entire country, before bringing them back to the Fleet Hargate base and sending them out to Ukraine.

From teddies for orphans to medical supplies, boxes upon boxes have filled the huge site over the past 12 months, with fundraising events and special Christmas meals also put on.

Mandy, who visited the country last summer, is working with Ukrainians in our area to ensure that they are happy and integrated into their new lives.

“I think some people feel guilty that they are here when they are separated from relatives,” she said.

“A lot of older people don’t want to leave. The oldest person we’ve supported is an 86 year old lady who had never left Ukraine before.

“She now lives here in Holbeach.

“It’s amazing to see people taking others under their wing and it really nourishes your soul.

“For the Ukrainians, this is something which has been hanging over their heads their entire lives and it’s just getting worse over there.

“When that siren goes off, it changes your life.

“They’re dealing with it every day. The Russians have bombed their infrastructure.

“Villages are cut off or under Russian rule, there’s no heating, limited electricity and this is happening just four hours away from us.

“Nowhere is particularly safe and Putin’s got weapons that Hitler never had. It’s terrible.”

Mandy Baxter, Martin Privett and volunteers load up the lorry with Boxes of Hope from Holbeach (55398129)
Mandy Baxter, Martin Privett and volunteers load up the lorry with Boxes of Hope from Holbeach (55398129)
Mandy Baxter and the Boxes of Hope team in Holbeach (55772460)
Mandy Baxter and the Boxes of Hope team in Holbeach (55772460)
Mandy Baxter with Artim, a Ukrainian orphan (62622079)
Mandy Baxter with Artim, a Ukrainian orphan (62622079)

Mandy has seen many families move to South Holland as they are evacuated from their homes.

However, while they have been stripped away from everything they know, there are elements of our area that remind them of home.

“The Ukrainians like it here as it’s so like Ukraine. Their main industry is farming and people grow everywhere.

“It’s a beautiful country - it’s like it was here 20 or 30 years ago.”

Boxes of Hope deliveries in Ukraine (62622082)
Boxes of Hope deliveries in Ukraine (62622082)

Mandy is also now making moves to provide further help to the Ukrainians living here to ensure that they are able to work in the professions they have trained in.

She said:”They are overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them but they have been amazed by the bureaucracy - they have to go through so much just to live and work here.

I don’t think it’s all been thought through really. There’s doctors, dentists and accountants who are working in factories.

“There’s nothing wrong with that but they need to learn English to get back into their professions.

“And the English language classes usually take place when they are working.

“So something needs to be done to help them - and I will do it - as we need these people as it is.

“But, the bottom line is that we are saving lives. It has been a community miracle - without the people of South Holland we wouldn’t be here to help.

“This is my life now. It’s so sad that it’s come out of such an awful situation - the midst of a war - but I have never felt so fulfilled.

“I meet the most amazing people every day. Elderly people who bring us baby milk and young mums who have their families to feed bringing in supplies.”



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More