From the Borders to the battle zone

“My name is Debbie Playfair. I farm in the Scottish Borders with my husband and son. When I learnt of the work of Pickups 4 Peace, a farmer-to-farmer charity established to help the Ukraine war effort, I wanted to help.

Farmers helping farmers

Formed in February 2023, this farmer-to-farmer charity delivers vehicles and humanitarian aid to the people and places in Ukraine that need it most.

Many volunteers from throughout the UK have driven out vehicles packed full of essential items, including spades, generators, surgical equipment, spare 4×4 tyres, etc. It all helps. And the suppliers are being used resourcefully. Fishing nets – the most unusual item – are used to protect infrastructure from drones.

Convoy co-driver

Recently I joined the 10th convoy as co-driver with Neil Thomson from Caverton Mill. We were part of a two-vehicle, four-driver team from our village of Morebattle.

The first leg was overnight to Amsterdam, then 600 miles to our next overnight stop. Drivers and their vehicles from all over the UK joined the convoy.

Rendezvousing with our fellow drivers on the Polish side of the border, we crossed over and, with our police escort, were ‘blue-lighted’ into the centre of Lviv. We handed 38 vehicles over on this trip, making a total of 260 vehicles successfully delivered.

Whilst there, we made a visit the Central Plains Group farm that is pivotal in helping to make this charity work happen. The visit was an eye opener; currently 20% of Ukraine’s wonderful farmland can no longer be cropped due to occupation by Russian troops and mines, which now average 11 per square metre!

Time for reflection

The enormity of the situation was brought home to us when we visited one of the many cemeteries in Lviv. The cemetery grows bigger by the day. Each grave is decorated with flags, flowers and a photograph. You see the cheeky grin of an 18-year-old and think “I know somebody just like that”. The ages range from 18 to 60 and they look just like people we know and love at home.

One of the many cemeteries in Lviv.

A final farewell and your chance to help

Our farewell meal was followed by an auction, and the generosity was truly astonishing. The 70 convoy drivers dug deep into their pockets to raise over £19,000. This money will fund the purchase of four or five new vehicles for the next convoy.

And this is where we need your help. Can you supply a vehicle? They need to be roadworthy, have an MOT and good tyres.

Convoys are leaving every other month, so if you can donate a vehicle or equipment, or even if you’d be willing to drive, you can help.  Just visit or

Lasting impact

We met many local people and heard how appreciative they are of this help. Not only do these vehicles and supplies provide real, solid physical support for Ukraine by saving lives, they also give vital mental and moral support.  

Making this journey made me fully appreciate how close this war is to us and how easily it could spill over the borders. Help is even more important now, as this conflict has been superseded by the turmoil in the Middle East.

Putin has not gone away. We need to remember that Ukrainians are, in reality, fighting not just for their own country but for each and every one of us. For the moment they are holding their ground, but for how long?”

To find out more and see how you can help: or