A true Harrogate legend: John Shackleton continues incredible humanitarian work

Aid to Eastern Europe volunteers.
Aid to Eastern Europe volunteers.

For almost 30 years a big-hearted Harrogate resident has devoted his life to delivering ambulances with medical supplies to countries that are in need.

For almost 30 years a big-hearted Harrogate resident has devoted his life to delivering ambulances with medical supplies to countries that are in need.

Well known around town for his humanitarian work, John Shackleton and a team of hugely dedicated volunteers are still busy continuing to go around the world to make a difference through their Aid to Eastern Europe organisation.

Most recently, the team travelled to Georgia to give Catharsis, one of the country’s oldest charities, the gift of an ambulance.

Over the years, getting close to 50 trips have been made by Aid to Eastern Europe to provide communities across 25 countries with ambulances and essential medical supplies.

And it doesn’t stop there - they have also presented charities with fire engines and mini buses, and their fundraising efforts to acquire the vehicles are enormous.

John said: “There is a difference between a want and a need - there has to be a need in the communities that we supply ambulances and medical supplies to. It is really rewarding work, to see how it’s helping people where you go, it’s my life.”

John and all the hard-working volunteers who make this happen are totally committed to raising funds, and they really throw themselves into it - whether that’s by chopping and delivering logs to sell in the freezing winter months, or selling donated bikes through Harrogate firm Resurrection Bikes.

Seeing the smiles on people’s faces makes it all worthwhile for the team that covers thousands of miles to make a difference. John said: “It’s about the people you meet as well, you can see how much it means to them.”

So far the team has travelled everywhere from Albania and Moldova, to Lithuania, Turkey, Russia and Bosnia. The impact of what Aid to Eastern Europe does can be measured beyond the gift of the ambulance stocked with medical supplies itself.

John said: “We do stay in touch with people from the places we go to, it’s nice to hear how they are getting on and how it’s helped them.”