Former soldier launches appeal to get body armour to Ukrainian civilians

Rob Willis, from Fakenham, pictured during his time in Iraq. He has started an appeal to get body armour to people in Ukraine

Rob Willis, from Fakenham, pictured during his time in Iraq. He has started an appeal to get body armour to people in Ukraine - Credit: Rob Willis

A former soldier who served three tours of Iraq has launched an appeal to get life-saving body armour to people besieged by the war in Ukraine. 

Rob Willis, from Fakenham, is desperate to raise the necessary funds to buy military-grade helmets and bullet-proof vests for those caught up in the conflict. 

The 40-year-old served active duty in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003, followed by two further operational tours in 2007 and 2008. 

Rob Willis, pictured with his wife and children, served three hours of Iraq

Rob Willis, pictured with his wife and children, served three tours of Iraq - Credit: Rob Willis

While hundreds of appeals have been started with a view to shipping essential supplies to the war-torn nation, Mr Willis said not enough was being done to protect civilians from the continued onslaught of Russian shelling. 

With MED-PTS - his Fakenham-based private ambulance firm - behind him, he is determined to do something about the apparent shortfall. 

"There is a lot going on with people sending over warm clothes, shoes, beds and non-perishable items," said Mr Willis.

"We are doing that as well and taking it down to the Ukrainian embassy in London, but they are okay now for certain supplies because they have been inundated.

Rob Willis, owner of Fakenham-based private ambulance service MED-PTS, pictured with his wife, Julie

Rob Willis, owner of Fakenham-based private ambulance service MED-PTS, pictured with his wife, Julie - Credit: Rob Willis

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"What they need now is protective body armour, which is what I want to focus on. 

"Having spent 10 years in the army, I have witnessed what not having body armour can do to women and children. You feel vulnerable without it in these places. 

"Most of the people who are getting shelled in Ukraine every day have no protection at all. It is a sad state of affairs, but we have to help as best we can."

In a bid to play his part, Mr Willis has launched a fundraiser through MED-PTS' Facebook page which is specifically taking donations for protective equipment. 

Staff from private ambulance service, MED-PTS, based in Fakenham, are helping with Rob Willis' appeal

Staff from private ambulance service, MED-PTS, based in Fakenham, are helping with Rob Willis' appeal - Credit: Rob Willis

It does not come cheap, with a full set of military-grade surplus costing £150-180 - but the benefits for Ukrainian people could make the difference between life and death. 

On Wednesday, three people including a child were killed in a Russian air strike on a hospital in the city of Mariupol. 

"Having this helmet and body armour is going to save your eyes, your neck - your life," added Mr Willis.

"Even if we get 100 sets of armour together, that is £15,000. But it is worth doing if it is going to help someone."

To donate, visit facebook.com/airambulancemedics.