Nottinghamshire farmers’ Christmas trees charity effort to help Ukraine

21 December 2023

Christmas tree on the back of a van with the Ukraine flag

Nottinghamshire farmers who planted 1,500 Christmas trees are selling them off to raise funds to help those in Ukraine.

John and Cathy Charles-Jones of Woodborough Park Farm, Woodborough, are supporting the Pick-ups for Peace charity in their mission to help communities in Eastern Ukraine who are suffering following the Russian invasion.

Some of the family’s Christmas trees, which were planted in 2012, were sold last year to help the aid effort and this year the proceeds will be divided between Pick-ups for Peace and the Ukraine Hub in Nottingham.

Since February 2022, with volunteer effort, the Ukraine Hub has sent 41 articulated lorry loads of aid to Ukraine.

John, who is a well-known farmer within the county and South Notts NFU member, said: “Last year we supported Pick-ups for Peace and I was lucky to be able to drive to Ukraine with them to help deliver aid to where it is needed.

“This year we are well on our way towards raising a similar amount from selling the trees, which will hopefully be split between the two charities.

As farmers we empathise with their rural roots and simply want to do all we can to help.”

NFU member John Charles-Jones

“If the farm schedule allows, I would also like to return to Ukraine next year, to help continue the important work that Pick-ups for Peace are doing.

“Neither of us have ties to the country but the Ukrainians we have met are lovely people and the country is in desperate need of help.”

Helping to make a difference

“As farmers we empathise with their rural roots and simply want to do all we can to help,” said John.

“Unfortunately, what we, Pick-ups for Peace and others supplying aid are doing is a drop in the ocean of what is needed; while I’m sure it all helps, I really wish we could be doing far, far more.”

On the farm, which mainly grows arable crops, the family have trees from 4ft up to 16ft and John said they had now made a dent in numbers in the field, with people picking their own or having them delivered before the big day.

Trees under snow

“People can get in touch with us, select their tree in the field and we cut it for them to take away or else we can deliver right to their door.

“Many customers within the local community have returned wanting to help support Ukraine and help make a difference.”

NFU Nottinghamshire county adviser Andy Guy said the donations would help and he applauded John and Cathy and all those farmers doing their bit.

“Farmers are at the heart of their rural communities and it’s great to see the work they do locally but also the wider charity work including helping those in real need overseas,” he said.

“My very best to you all at Christmas as people tuck into local, seasonal, high quality Nottinghamshire food and drink or celebrate the holidays with a homegrown tree as the centrepiece of their festive decorations.”

Head over to Woodborough Park Farm's Facebook page to find out more.

What is Pick-ups for Peace?

Pick-ups for Peace was set up by Vince Gillingham and Mark Laird, both of whom have strong connections to Ukraine. The charity is keen to hear from anyone who can donate an old pick-up or other 4x4s, as well as money to help get the vehicles to Ukraine.

Vehicles can be up to 15 years old and have more than 100 miles on the clock but need a valid MOT and good tyres. Currently it costs around £1,200 to transport each vehicle and provide accommodation and transport for the volunteer drivers back to the UK.

Participants are invited to drive their donated vehicle to Lviv in Western Ukraine and the charity’s Ukrainian team then transport them to Eastern Ukraine where they are needed most.

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