A volunteer who helped transport almost 350 tonnes of aid to front lines in Ukraine has been paralysed in a moped accident while on holiday in Spain.
Friends of 41-year-old Darius Linkus, who has lost the use of both legs, are fundraising for an accessible wet room for him and his wife Saule, also 41, who was the passenger on the moped.
They broke their necks and Mrs Linkus broke her right shoulder and has lost some mobility in her arm.
The couple, who live in Trimley St Mary, Suffolk, are in rehabilitation and a relative is helping to look after their three children.
Friend Oliver Horsman, 43, described Mr Linkus as a “proud man” who would not ask for help, but said he had finally agreed to Mr Horsman posting an online fundraising page on his behalf.
Mr Horsman said Mr Linkus, who works in import and export, was quick to help after war broke out in Ukraine last year.
“The war started and we were like, ‘Right, these people need help’,” said Mr Horsman, who works with tech start-ups.
“He said, ‘I’m going to fill up a van, I’m going to buy loads of stuff and I’m going to drive to Ukraine’.
“I was like, ‘Let’s be a little bit more measured than that, I’ll see if I can get some donations and I’ll come with you’.”
He said that within three days of the war starting their Facebook post had been shared thousands of times.
“Literally it went insane,” said Mr Horsman.
“Through Darius’s connections he managed to sort out all the import/export paperwork, get all the fixers on the borders for these vans that were going over.
“I believe we were the first British aid van over the border into Ukraine. Other ones were rejected and not able to get across.
“He ended up doing four or five trips himself and we facilitated 50 or 60 further trips to get that stuff over the border.
“He was constantly on the phone.”
Mr Horsman said that after the crash Mr Linkus was on the phone from his bed trying to arrange for generators to be delivered to people near front lines.
“It was a bit of a frog in throat moment,” said Mr Horsman.
“It’s pretty crazy that he now needs other people’s help really – pretty tragic.”
The aid they took to Ukraine included surgical and first aid kits, incubators and military boots, and they also helped pick up and drop off refugees.
Mr Horsman said Mr Linkus’s moped accident happened last September.
“He said to his wife, ‘Let’s get away for the weekend, it’s been pretty manic over the last few months’,” said Mr Horsman.
“They bought a ticket to Spain for the weekend, rented a moped and that was that. His front wheel hit a rock in the road.
“His wife was on the back of the moped with him. Both wearing helmets, both within the speed limit, nothing silly. It was just how they fell.
He said the couple have no income and “it’s been a crazy period for them to try to keep afloat”.
Mr Linkus had been “sleeping in a hospital bed in the front room and having to be washed with a bowl of water by his bed as he can’t get into the bathroom”, Mr Horsman said.
He said he wanted to fundraise for the wet room “so at least he can have a quality of life”.
“He’s a very proud man, super giving, will literally give you the shirt off his back,” said Mr Horsman. “He’s not the kind of person who would put a page out there asking for help.
“He’s agreed finally, after months and months of me pushing him, for me to put that post up there.
“I just thought I had to help. He kind of inspired me.”
Donate at www.gofundme.com/f/dontae-to-help-darius?utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&utm_content=undefined&utm_medium=chat&utm_source=whatsapp&utm_term=undefined