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Aid driver John off on a mercy mission to help refugees

By Suzanne Breen

Published 10/09/2015

John Hurson with some of his cargo destined for refugee camps
John Hurson with some of his cargo destined for refugee camps

A Northern Ireland lorry driver has set off with a truckload of blankets, medical equipment, clothes and toys for refugees fleeing war-torn countries.

Dungannon man John Hurson has started the first leg of his journey with his cousin Adrian Murphy.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "We've filled the van to the hilt and we're getting the Dublin to Holyhead ferry.

"From there we'll go to Dover and on to Calais and talk to the refugees and aid agencies there.

"We'll find out where in Europe is the area of greatest need.

"Wherever it is, we'll drive to it, no matter how far the journey.

"Our original plan had been to distribute our goods in Calais but Calais is now swamped with aid.

"There are other places where refugees are receiving little or no assistance and that is where we'll go.

"We're thinking of Austria, Germany, or Hungary.

"It's only 800 miles to the Hungarian border from Calais. I reckon I could do that in 12 or 13 hours.

"I'd drive that distance in a heartbeat if it's to help people."

John didn't ask the public for donations and has funded the trip himself.

"I don't think I'm doing anything special," he said.

"I'm a human being and I see other human beings in dire situations.

"To sit at home and do nothing would be criminal."

He said he had been deeply moved by the photographs of the dead body of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach.

"It shook me to the core and spurred me into action. I've bought blankets and medical equipment including walking sticks and wheelchairs."

John is also bringing hundreds of toys that were originally destined for children in Gaza.

"A Dublin woman, Eileen Carr, contacted me to tell me she'd containers of toys meant for Palestinian kids," he said.

"For the past year she has tried to get them shipped and delivered but the Israeli blockade is preventing humanitarian aid getting into Gaza.

"So Eileen spoke to people there and they said that there was no point in the toys, children's clothes and baby-care items just sitting in storage in Dublin.

"They said that was a waste, and they asked that the stuff be given to refugee children in Europe."

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