'To put a smile on a child’s face is humbling': Shrewsbury aid teams head to Romanian orphanages

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Humanitarian aid destined for orphanages in Romania is en rout from Shrewsbury aboard three fire engines.

Members of Shropshire-based charity Operation Sabre receive a traditional blessing from the priest at Shrewsbury Cathedral in 2018

Shrewsbury-based charity Operation Sabre set off on Wednesday morning on their 19th mission.

Since 2012, more than 100 tonnes of aid and 50 firefighting vehicles have been delivered. The three fire engines taken this week have recently ended 17 years of service on the streets of Birmingham.

The convoy, crewed by 12 volunteer serving and retired firefighters, together with a retired local police officer, received the traditional blessing from Canon Jonathan Mitchell in Shrewsbury Quarry Park before leaving.

Canon Jonathan said it was his continued honour to carry out his sixth blessing of Operation Sabre’s vehicles and crews, a blessing that is reciprocated by Romanian Catholic, Presbyterian and Orthodox priests on arrival in Romania.

The convoy will travel 1,800 miles, over five days, through nine countries, before reaching Romania. On route they will collect an emergency ambulance and minibus from colleagues in Austria, increasing the convoy to five vehicles.


On arrival, the team will embark upon an intensive training programme with local volunteer firefighters in the communities of Alba, Bihor and Mures counties, together with delivering aid to more than 200 residents at an orphanage, a special needs home and old people’s home.

The ambulance will be donated to the small community of Cetatea de Balta that currently has no means of transport for the local doctor and nurse, and the minibus is to be donated to a children’s home in Sangeru de Padure. Romanian Government and British Embassy officials will attend a ceremony to celebrate the presentation of the 50th fire engine.


Team member and former police officer Mark Briscoe from Telford who has participated in several missions commented that the team’s enthusiasm stems from a genuine passion to support some of the most vulnerable in Romanian society.

"To put a smile on a child’s or old person’s face is a humbling and fulfilling experience," he said.

The charity’s president and team leader Steve Worrall praised the support of local groups from across Shropshire and the Welsh borders who generously donated toys, blankets and clothing, all of which will make a huge impact upon the lives of those who have so little. The team return to the UK on October 26 and their daily progress can be viewed via the charity’s Facebook page operationsabre

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.


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