Ramsgate cafe owner’s mission taking aid to the people of war torn Ukraine

Kevin Cromeeke returns to Ukraine at the end of this month

Since the upscaling of Russian aggression in Ukraine in February last year, one Ramsgate café owner has dedicated himself to collecting and taking aid to the country.

Kevin Cromeeke, who owns Topps Café on Ramsgate seafront and is also a director of a building and maintenance company, is getting ready for his latest run at the end of this month.

Dad-of-two Kevin is scheduling two trips so he can transport a total of 11 generators -five or six per trip – but also desperately needed medical supplies, hygiene items and dried food.

The 59-year-old has been making the crossings since the war into mainland Ukraine hit the news in February 2022.

He said: “The Ukraine war had just kicked off and that evening on the news I saw an image of a coach full of evacuees crossing the border into Poland. A family got off that coach and looked exactly like a family I knew very well from being on holiday there. I imagined them and their eight-year-old daughter and the distraught look on their faces and knew I could not just sit in England and do nothing.

“I got on the internet to look for anyone else who felt the same way and  connected with two other people.

“I have got a café and with all these people crossing the border I knew they would need food and something hot to drink. So, I decided not to open the café last year and travelled out, taking my generators and equipment and set up a big food kitchen in a disused Tesco car park on the border. The Tesco building was being used as a refugee centre and the car park was where we would get people in, sort them out and give them hot food and drink.”

Kevin and colleagues ran the food kitchen for three weeks. At that point bigger companies were starting to move in, such as Pizza Italia which was dishing out 200,000 pizzas daily.

Kevin said: “There were between 2000-5000 people coming across the border each day. It was chaotic when we first got there but after those three weeks the refugee centre was more organised and the bigger companies were taking the pressure off.

“At that point we were looking at how else we could help and so started taking aid into Ukraine for the people who could not, or would not, leave the country.”

Kevin spent two and a half months working alongside other volunteers to get aid and food into Ukraine. Shipments would be sent to the Polish border for the volunteers to load up and get into the war torn country.

Kevin said: “We were using my van to drive it in as it is a small van and does better on the roads, which are really bad, than a bigger vehicle. After the three months the couple I was working with were unable to continue and we disbanded and I came back to England.”

However, Kevin did not want to stop helping the Ukrainian people and as he already had a network of contacts in the country he decided to continue and now meets with French contact Quentin at the border to make the runs.

Since then Kevin has been spending around 10 weeks in England collecting goods and funds and then taking it out, via ferry from Dover and then driving through Europe, to be distributed over the course of 10 days to a fortnight.

Once Kevin has delivered his own donations he then turns his hand to helping other organisations in the country by taking out their loads. He is venturing into parts of Ukraine that are heavily  under fire and so currently has a ballistic vest donated by Tommy Woods from the Flying Horse pub in St Lawrence.

Photo Rebecca Chapman

Kevin said: “I pay my own expenses and buy the generators but I do not have the money to buy all the other supplies so really need donations of sanitary and hygiene products, dried food and – this trip- urgently needed torniquets, blood bags and lines, medical tape and medical gloves.”

Donations can be dropped off at Topps Café in Harbour Parade, The Flying Horse at St Lawrence, Peter’s Hairdressers in Plains of Waterloo and the Red Lion in St Peter’s.

Donations can also be made online via the fundraising page here

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The invasion has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides, and instigated Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.


  1. Well done Kevin.
    We had a Ukraine student stay with us over 15 years ago. We remained in contact spasmodically over the years (Birthday & Christmas etc). As soon as war broke out we made contact urging her to come with her 6 month old child to stay with us. Eventually we managed to get her mother and her sister to the UK together with the 6 month old.

    Mother daughter and baby are doing fine. We managed to get the 18 year old sister into Southampton Uni to continue her studies in Law. Pleased to say she 18 year old has passed all first year exams. Yes we are proud of them all. However father and husband remain. Fighting for their country.

  2. i notice tommy wood of the flying horse has donated a balistic vest ? he might been better donating his new teeth , they would frighten the russians to death.

  3. The Ukrainian military and political leadership have been able to fight the Russians and inflict devastating & catastrophic strategic losses on the Russian military. The capture of Kherson has been the biggest setback for Putin and the Russian Army, this was the first greatest strategic loss. The battle of Bakhmut is the second great loss for the Russians and it does not matter now if the Wagner terrorists can take over the remainder of the city, the Ukrainians have strategically won this battle too.
    Within next weeks once the muddy ground gets dry and becomes more solid, the Ukrainians will be able to wage a massive counterattack involving and utilizing the newly delivered western tanks Challenger and Leopard 2 tanks and Bradley, Stryker, AMX-10 and Marder infantry fighting vehicles. These battle tanks and vehicles have much more superior firepower and high tech options vs. the Russian equipment. If Ukraine will have enough number of the tanks and fighting vehicles, they should be able to start a massive counterattack and liberate more of its occupied territories across Donbass, Luhansk and at a later stages Crimea.
    The only strategy for the wanted war criminal Putin now is to keep inflicting massive civilian terror, casualties on the Ukrainians and keep attacking the civilian infrastructure to starve them and leave the Ukrainians without electricity or water supply. It feels like Putin is utilizing the usual Russian military playbook he used in Georgia, Chechnya, Crimea and Syria: win the war by spilling more civilian blood, inflict more civilian terror and keep committing more war crimes to further inflict more fear and terror.
    Hopefully the NATO members, the US especially will be able to throw in more weaponry, especially the F-16 fighter jets, hopefully higher range MGM-140 ATACMS rockets, counter rocket C-RAM weapons systems to better fight the Iranian drones and more for air defenses to counter the Iranian drones and ballistic missiles.
    With such phase this war will most likely end in 2023 or maximum with Crimea’s liberation within few months of the start of 2024. The Russian forces will be also forced to leave Moldova, Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Samachablo (so called South Ossetia), Nagorno-Karabakh and Syria. Ukraine will be victorious and the Russians should be very concerned about the fate that awaits afterwards. With the Ukrainian victory the world will forever destroy Russia’s imperialistic ambitions, Russian nationalism and this will save future generations from future wars and peace will definitely follow.

  4. The Ukrainian people are fighting this war for all of us! If Putin hadn’t been stopped he would try his luck until he got to Berlin! I donate monthly, and more when funds allow to UNICEF the children’s charity, they take donations over the phone: 0300 034 9992

  5. This guy is amazing, and so selfless, and funding his own expenses and time, makes us so humbling, I know a couple of people who done a few trips to Ukraine but couldnt continue due to the cost, I shall gladly donate to this cause


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