Ukraine-Russia: Day one of HGV driver’s journey to take aid to Moldova

Edinburgh-based HGV driver Robert Marshall is transporting a lorry load of aid to Moldova, where thousands of Ukrainians have fled since war broke out.

By Jane Bradley
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 4:55 am

Mr Marshall, who usually transports goods to Europe every week, is working with charity Teech to distribute the aid where it is most needed in Moldova.

He speaks here about his first day on the road:

Day One

Lorry driver Robert Marshall. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

"Today went really well. We got 320 boxes of aid from Edinburgh on. There were a good dozen family and friends helping us out to load up the truck this morning, then I stopped off in Newcastle to pick up about another 35 boxes.

Now, I’m not sure I’ve got enough room in my trailer for the rest of the load, thanks to the generous people of Edinburgh. I'm just so glad to be here, everybody has been so generous.

"The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Edinburgh held a late Christmas dinner last night when they had a raffle and matched the money raised, so they’re donating £3,000 to the trip, which can go towards anything we find is needed when we get to Moldova, as well as the fuel to get across.

"I’m heading down south tonight and I’ll probably stop in a service station on the M1 and have nine hours off and sleep in my cab.

Lorry driver Robert Marshall loads boxes to be freighted to Moldova. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

"I’m supposed to be stopping at Heathrow to get 20 pallets of food on, so that will be a challenge. If we can’t get it all on, we’ll have to decide is what's the least urgent and leave a couple of pallets off. Some of the pallets are of hospital clothing, gowns and so on.

"Nothing will go to waste. We’re already talking about another in a few weeks’ time and someone else will pick it up. Initially the panic was that we needed to make sure the trucks were full and to make sure I was going with a full trailer of aid and I will be. I will be cramming every last inch of stuff onto this truck.

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"I’ll meet everyone else who is doing the trip for Teech in Colchester tomorrow. There are ten vehicles in total and we’ll be travelling in convoy. There are six articulated lorries, an 18-tonne truck, a mini bus and two Land rovers. It’s a three day drive, so if anything goes wrong we want to be able to pitch in and help.

A volunteer helps load the lorry bound for Moldova. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

"When I get down to Colchester, I’ll be picking up another driver who I've worked with before, so am very comfortable with him. For now I can just be myself and make my cab as untidy as I want, then when he gets in, I’ll have to tidy it all up. Then we’ll go to the ferry and go across to Holland.

"Someone in Newcastle said to me today that I had so much stuff, but I told them while it looks a lot, there's there's nearly 400,000 refugees in Moldova and the ten trucks that we’re taking is just going to be a drop in the ocean. So it's not that much, but we'll do what we can.”

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