22 March, 2022
Flying to aid Ukraine
A LOCAL Mareeba man has selflessly flown halfway across the world on a mission to ensure a special Ukrainian children’s choir and their families, get out of the war-gripped country safely.
Tim Lovell is a 64-year-old man currently living in Mareeba, he has 30 years’ experience in fi refighting and disaster management and from 2009 to 2011 he spent time in Zambia as an overseas aid worker.
Knowing his skillset could be used, Mr Lovell departed for Budapest, Hungary on Sunday, traversing the globe to do what he can to assist Ukrainian refuges pass through the Hungarian border.
Mr Lovell and a group of five others have dedicated themselves to helping the Ukrainian COLOR MUSIC Children’s Choir and their families flee the country, except for their fathers who are standing their ground and defending their homeland.
Mr Lovell, along with two other Australians, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne, a German, a Hollander and a Hungarian man are all patrons of the choir and have supported them over the years, including buying the choir clothes, costumes, equipment, food and more.
Responding to the choir’s urgent plea for assistance, the group have all hopped on board to help get the 72 kids and their families out of the country if they wish, and away from the war.
“They’ve got to want to come, they’ve got to decide they want to get out – If any want to get out we want to give them a safe route,” Mr Lovell said.
“We’ve got them on the road at the moment, some we’ve lost track of some because you lose communication with them – we’ve got three groups out at the moment, all at our safehouse in Budapest.
“I’m just hoping I can do something useful.”
Over his years as a patron, Mr Lovell has grown to know each of the kids personally and formed great relationships with them, with each of the kids writing stories to the patron group introducing themselves years ago.
“We get daily photos and videos of what the kids are doing, whether it’s a birthday, whether it’s opening a gift,” he said.
“We’ve all said that we’re committed to stand with them, whatever happens.”
When Mr Lovell first heard the news about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he knew he had to do something to help.
“As soon as it happened, I wanted to go but didn’t know how, I wanted to be there to help,” he said.
“It’s very emotional knowing they want help, the messages we were getting from them were just tear-jerking.
“The mothers are lost and don’t know what to do, they want to get their kids somewhere safe but don’t want to leave their husbands behind, they’re really torn.”
Mr Lovell will remain in Budapest anywhere between two weeks or two months depending on “how useful” he can be there.