A Reading man has returned from a ‘nerve-racking’ journey to deliver Ukrainian aid to a secret destination on the Polish border.

Nine drivers from the Berkshire town travelled 1,200 miles to meet with Polish volunteer distributors, who relay food to starving families over the border despite some of them never making it back alive.

Sukhminder Dhanjal, 48, from Earley, described the ‘tense’ atmosphere as they handed over 40 tonnes of donations while trying to avoid rousing suspicion from any potential Russian spies.

Reading Chronicle: Volunteers organise donations in ReadingVolunteers organise donations in Reading

“It was quite nerve-racking,” said Mr Dhanjal, Treasurer for the Sikh temple Ramgarhia Saba, in London Road, which organized the convoy.

“I was on tenterhooks. One needs to be cautious because you never know what’s going to happen.

“We wanted to do it under the radar simply because we didn’t want to risk exposing the location where all the items were being deposited so that had to be done very carefully.”

Read more: Reading couple hosting Ukrainian refugee family

Mr Dhanjal and the other drivers left Reading on the morning of March 27 with vans and trailers filled with nappies, sanitary products and high calorie food like tinned meat and fish.

Reading Chronicle: The Sikh temple in London RoadThe Sikh temple in London Road

Donations and appeals were made by Reading School, Earley residents and the Sikh congregation, in a show of shared humanity Mr Dhanjal described as ‘tear-jerking’.

Reading Borough Council allowed the convoy to weigh there vehicles at the Re3 recycling centre so they would meet weight limit restrictions driving through Holand, Germany and Poland before meeting their contacts at the border.

Read more: ‘Relief’ as 12-year-old refugee who had visa application terminated moves to Reading

“At the start we were apprehensive and quite concerned, but by the end of it our barriers were broken and we felt very humbled to have shared this experience,” said Mr Dhanjal.

“There were a number of very kind Polish individuals who offered their assistance.

“By the end of several hours of helping organize and label products they had prepared us a meal and we’re not just talking a little snack.

Read more: Fire engines sent to Ukraine from Berkshire

“We were humbled by their sheer generosity and by the end of it there was a lot of love."

He continued: “There was some sense of guilt. We were fortunate enough to be in a hotel on the route to this final destination we were somewhat embarrassed to be in a hotel with a bed and a shower, thinking ‘well how much did that cost?’

He said the drivers are considering additional trips and more efficient ways to deliver products.

Asked why he made the journey, Mr Dhanjal said: “The Sikh community have a history of making sure people are not without food and are cared for, and I wanted to ensure that we communicate that it is not just Sikhs who we look after, we look after anyone who is in need.

“This is not about religion or skin colour, this is about serving our fellow humans and that is the most important thing for me.”