A HELENSBURGH man who fled Ukraine with his family at the outbreak of war is set to return to his hometown this week.

Stuart McKenzie was living in Kyiv until Russia invaded more than a year ago and has been living since in Poland and organising charity efforts to help his adopted homeland.

The dad of three has already raised more than £7,000 towards two 4x4 emergency vehicles to join a convoy to Ukraine and bring humanitarian aid.

And there will be a special fund-raising event at Peckham's in Helensburgh on Saturday, April 1, to support the efforts of David Fraser, who has been regularly making humanitarian trips to Ukraine.

The vehicles will be part of the Pick-Ups For Peace initiative from UK farmers aiming to get monthly missions totalling at least 100 vehicles of goods to Ukraine by June.

In JustGiving appeal, Stuart said: "As a Scottish citizen who has resided in Ukraine for the past 28 years, I have developed a profound connection to the people and the country.

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"I am deeply concerned for my fellow Ukrainians during these challenging times of war. With a strong desire to support communities in Eastern Ukraine that have been heavily affected by the ongoing war, I feel compelled to take action.

"My target is to contribute one or two vehicles to the Pick-Ups For Peace organization to contribute to their goal to send 100 pre-owned ambulances, pick-up tracks, or 4x4 vehicles from the UK to Eastern Ukraine, all filled with critically needed supplies.

"These vehicles will provide much-needed assistance and resources to those who are suffering in the affected areas.

"By leveraging my Scottish background and extensive time spent in Ukraine, I hope to bring together compassionate individuals from both nations to make a positive impact during these difficult times.

"Achieving this goal I will be driving these vehicles personally along with other volunteers to Ukraine at the end of April 2023."

The Peckham's event, from 5pm until midnight, will be a chance for the McKenzie family to reunite with friends and loved ones, as well as a collection and charity auction. Stuart says all are invited.

The convoy is being led by Vince Gillingham and Mark Laird, who both have connections to Ukraine, having worked and lived in the country.

Vince said: “Ukraine is under attack, and they are desperately short of four-wheel-drive non-military vehicles which are crucial to get food and medicine to their troops. We have plenty of these vehicles in the UL.

“It is so inspiring to see the good in the people who have given their vehicles, time and money to this project. It gives you a lot of hope for the world to see an 18-year-old who has only just passed his test driving all the way to Ukraine.

“I know Ukraine well but for the majority of our travelling companions it was their first visit, and it was remarkable to see how strong the cultural connections were.

"Our Ukrainian contacts could not believe that the UK farming community would do this for them. I urge anyone who can donate a vehicle or money to help us buy vehicles and pay other expenses for these missions to get in touch.”