7 Mar, 2022 @ 18:00
1 min read

British expat on Spain’s Costa del Sol plans drive to Poland to collect refugees from Ukraine border

Ukraine: Refugees Flee Irpin
Families pile onto trucks. Refugees flee Irpin, and Ukrainian forces continue to fortify the city, as Russian forces attempt to advance on the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv on March 5th, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. (Photo by Justin Yau/ Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 37959625

A RETIRED British expat who lives on Spain’s Costa del Sol is driving to the Polish border to drop off goods and pick up refugees.

Martin Orbell, originally from Walthamstow, East London, is a former lorry driver for a haulier company.

The 68-year-old got chatting to a Ukrainian man named Eugenio who owns a pop-up chicken shop in Mollina, Malaga and was moved by the harrowing stories Eugenio told about his family, who are still in Ukraine. 

Now Martin plans to drive to the Polish border with his friend Frank who is a British army veteran.

“All I want to do is show support,” he told The Olive Press. 

Expat Volunteer
Martin and his wife Elaine Orbell. Photo: E Orbell/Olive Press

He comes from a family of hauliers, and said in the 70s his Dad’s company would drive anywhere in the world.

“We would drive to Mongolia, Russia, anywhere. If my Dad was still alive he would have sent a truck there by now,” he said.

He aims to hire a minivan from a local company and fill it with supplies which he will then drive to the Ukraine-Poland border to be donated to the Ukrainian cause before picking up refugees and bringing them back to Spain. 

He admits that the venture is a far cry from the quiet retirement he had planned but feels it is his duty.

“We’ve had ups and downs in our life but nothing compared to what the people of Ukraine are going through. Any little thing we can do is a help,” he said. “I have never done anything else like this before. I once dressed as Father Christmas for a fundraiser, but that’s about it.”


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