Shropshire firefighters are among an 18 strong group of volunteers who set off this week on a 14th humanitarian aid mission to Transylvania after a traditional blessing from Shrewsbury Cathedral’s Very Reverend Canon Jonathan Mitchell in Shrewsbury Quarry.
Operation Sabre is a Shropshire based charity – with Telford Watch Manager Ian Pugh and Telford firefighter James Fellows travelling with retired staff from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service including Steve Purslow, Malcolm Price, auditor Kathy Hall and organiser Steve Worrall, a retired Assistant Chief Fire Officer.
The team includes serving and retired members of fire and rescue services also from Manchester, Merseyside, Wales, Bavaria and Romania.
The team will drive for five days across nine countries, clocking up almost 2,000 miles, to reach Romania where they will train volunteer Romanian firefighters from remote villages who will take delivery of five fully equipped ‘pre-loved’ UK fire engines.
This will bring to 40 fire engines, thousands of firefighter uniforms, boots and helmets and a staggering 25 tonnes of humanitarian aid, donated over the past few years.
Volunteers have also supported three orphanages and “adopted” and fully decorated an old people’s home, where conditions had been “grim” until the charity intervened.
Steve Worrall from Hadnall, near Shrewsbury, said: “The generosity of local people and companies never fails to amaze the team and on this trip we will be transporting several tonnes of clothing, toys, blankets and toiletries that will make a life changing difference to so many people who have so little.”
During their last visit in May, the team unexpectedly discovered a special needs home in Capusu with 80 residents, which the charity now aims to improve conditions.
With the support of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, the charity has already managed to fund building works to create a toilet and bathroom in an isolated bedroom block where previously elderly disabled residents had to walk over 60 metres in all weathers, to the nearest facilities.
Mike Mortimer, a past-president from the Rotary Club said: “We have supported Operation Sabre over several years and have always been impressed to learn of the tangible difference their actions make in some of the poorest communities in Europe.
“I am delighted to be joining the team on this trip and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping out with decorating at the special needs home.”
The volunteers are due home on October 21.