Wimbledon Workers In Aid Convoy

Amanda and Linda off on a mission

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Two Wimbledon-based workers will be swapping their legal offices for a lorry when they take part in a charity convoy mission to Bulgaria.

Amanda Davis and Linda Stewart, who both work for Simpson Millar LLP in The Broadway, will be part of the 2011 Mission to Bulgaria organised by the Communication Workers Union Humanitarian Aid (CWUHA).

It will haul wheelchairs, clothing, toiletries, medical equipment, incubators, mattresses, nappies, toys and
other sorely-needed supplies to some of the region’s 20,000 orphaned children and disabled adults.

Travelling in vehicles loaned by BT, Royal Mail and Parcelforce, the CWUHA has to date delivered around 500,000 tonnes of aid worth over £1 million to
some of Europe's poorest countries.

Carl Webb from the CWUHA said: "Staff in these homes work tirelessly to give the children in their care the love and attention they deserve.

"Hampered by severely limited resources, however, they face a real struggle and are in desperate need of help and supplies."

This year Simpson Millar is working once again with One Life Charity and Lora’s Foundation – the two organisations jointly tasked with ensuring the smooth running of the convoy as it nears its destination.

Amanda Davis, Simpson Millar's Wimbledon Office Manager, has volunteered to join the convoy as a driver each year and has been chosen three times so far - delivering aid to Bulgaria in 2009, Ukraine in 2006 and Moldova in 2005. She is pictured above on the 2009 convoy.

Amanda (pictured above in Bulgaria in 2009) and her colleague Linda Stewart, the firm's head of Employment Law, will sit behind the wheel of one of the lorries as the convoy winds through some of Europe's most deprived areas.

"We'll be leaving Wimbledon to pick up the truck from Manchester on September 8, then sailing from Hull the next day," Amanda said. "It is Linda's first time but I am an experienced driver and we are both keen to play our part in making sure this year’s convoy is bulging with vital supplies."

The convoy aims to deliver to: Two homes caring for nearly 200 children with physical and mental disabilities; two homes looking after more than 100 3-7 year-olds, a children's hospital; and two orphanages that care for nearly 200 children and a care home for adults.

The latter is Amanda's and Linda's main destination: An institution which looks after 85 physically and mentally-disabled adults, most of whom are bedridden and used to spending their lives in orphanages.

For years these residents' pensions would routinely – and crookedly – disappear. However, three years ago the EU signed off funding for desperately needed renovation work, with new floors, windows, beds, furniture and paint sprucing up what the CWUHA once described as a
"hell-hole".

Whilst those who survived the home in its worst state now enjoy comparatively happier lives, they still lack many basics. Most pressing on the list of necessities is wheelchairs – new and old. The homes have also issued a plea for Pampers for Adults.

"This is the most basic list we have ever seen," said Amanda. "We don't so much need furniture – some decent new items came with the home's refurbishment.

"What we really need is wheel chairs along with the kind of stuff we all normally take for granted like soap, shampoo, pillows, fleece blankets for elderly bedridden people, walking aids with wheels, even a few kiddies' toys."

Simpson Millar's managing partner Peter Watson said: "I’m extraordinarily proud of everyone who has volunteered to help deliver aid since we first joined the convoy. Amanda and Linda deserve plenty of encouragement and support for throwing their hat in the ring this year."

July 27, 2011