Graeme Pattinson, 54, has described seeing "a sea of people” with “very tired” and “withdrawn” faces as they were making their way to Lviv in search for safety in war-torn Ukraine.
Graeme, who worked for five years in the military back in the 1980s, spent a couple of days there as he was delivering medical supplies together with other veterans from East Durham Veterans Royal Marines.
He has described his time in the country as “emotional” and “upsetting”.
"I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone’s seen the news, everyone’s seen pictures,” said Graeme.
"It was emotional.
“We saw some really sad sights, particularly at Lviv train station.
"There was literally a sea of people in front of us. There were thousands. There was constant flow of people entering the square of Lviv train station.
"In the background, there were Red Cross tents, giving out meals.
"People were carrying cats, dogs, they didn’t have food for them.
"People were dressed in warm clothing, they all had their coats on, their hoods up. Many were carrying animals.
"Their faces were not smiling, they were very withdrawn, very tired looking. They’d obviously travelled a long distance to get where they were. They didn’t know where they were going.
"We saw young children, we saw very old people.
"No men, of course, just literally women, children, old people.”
While there, Graeme also raised funds to buy food for local dogs and cats, who were starving.
"In addition, we also found lots of animals on the outskirts of Lviv, just walking around, starving,” he said.
It was Graeme’s second trip to deliver donations for Ukraine, after driving over to the Polish city of Przemysl back in March to drop off medical supplies and sanitary products.
"Although the Ukrainians are fighting fiercely, they are losing so, so many people,” he said.
"It wasn’t a nice place to be.
"Very emotional. The people I spoke to were literally breaking down crying with the situation.
"It’s taken a toll on them.”
Despite the sad sights, Graeme has said he will be travelling to drop off donations again and has said military supplies – such as radios, boots, tourniquets. body armour and helmets – are now much needed.
"If people are doing any fundraising, buy some radios, buys some bandages, buy some helmets, buy some boots, and give us them so we can take them forward.
"All this fundraising must focus on military equipment now,” said Graeme.
He added: "I just want to help. I’m a bit old now to fight. I’ve got a family, I’ve got a business, it’s not my place to fight, but I will help them behind the scenes.
"I watch the news every day and I really feel for these people. I really feel for them.”