A RETIRED teacher organised a three day community collection at St Mary's Church in Ponteland.

Ponteland Photographic Society Publicity Officer and member, June Atkinson, organised a three day community collection for donations to go to the people of Ukraine. 

"The response has been magnificent!" she said.

June, 86, is a retired teacher and lecturer, and kept herself busy through lockdown by completing Open University courses, one of which was 'Teaching the Holocaust'.

"This has given me a deep understanding of the present situation in Ukraine," she said. "I felt we had to act to offer support."

St Mary's Church in Ponteland hosted the collection, and June said their team of volunteers 'worked non-stop' to organise the donations from Wednesday, March 9 until Friday, March 11, from 11am until 4pm.

"This has been a challenge, but our community has responded magificently," June said.

All of the donations were collected by Northumberland County Council on Monday, March 14.

"A team of volunteers quickly signed up each day, and we worked non-stop receiving an overwhelming amount of the requested items: food, medical supplies, daily necessities,  new clothing as well as children's necessities and toys, which were a joy to pack. The pets were not forgotten, as dog and cat food has also been given. Someone kindly donated a cat carrier," she explained.

"Waitrose carried out a whole week's collecting; a special thanks must be offered to their customers who responded so well. Firms provided cardboard boxes and when ordering our yellow lanyards from a London firm, they didn't charge at the check out, saying 'This is our gift'. B and M at Kingston Park were generous too, in taking 10 per cent off the whole, rather large bill."

"Northumberland County Council will collect everything and our gifts will join many more in the county. It is the least we could do. Our thoughts and prayers go with our donations to the people who are becoming refugees," June added.

Northumberland County Council said the county's response has been so overwhelmingly positive, they are asking people to pause their donations so items can be transported.

Glen Sanderson, a Council leader for Northumberland, said financial donations are still greatly needed and will have immediate benefit for those fleeing their homes in Ukraine.