A Discovery 3 ambulance, 'de-risked' for extra reliability, is among the vehicles sent to Ukraine by Mission Blue Light, an independent aid operation from Hampshire.
The Land Rover Discovery, along with an Opel Movano ambulance, is now believed to be rescuing casualties in the Donbas region.
Mission Blue Light, run by an aerospace engineer who wishes to remain anonymous, began with funds raised via family and friends. He then learned about an available ambulance after reaching out to the D3&4 Owners Group on Facebook.
The Discovery 3 had been laid-up due to a sticking turbo actuator – a fault that usually requiring removal of the body. The engineer learned how to create a low-tech tool out of a bucket handle, cured the fault, then bought the vehicle.
‘What made it really appealing was that it had a Prospeed roofrack and ladder, which are like hens’ teeth,’ he told LRO. The rack was sold within 24 hours for almost as much as it would have cost new; the money was put towards the Movano ambulance.
Both vehicles were transferred to pre-arranged Ukrainian drivers before reaching the border. The support vehicle – a second Disco 3 – brought the team home to the UK.
‘We’ve all heard horror stories about D3s so I wanted to de-risk the ambulance by fitting coil suspension,' he said. He also upgraded the oil pump and fitted a new timing belt – a common weakness of TDV6 engines. ‘Most of the corporate sponsorship came from businesses I was already a customer of.’
A group effort
The Discovery 3 ambulance is equipped to carry up to two medics, in addition to the driver, plus one stretcher.
Goods and services worth around £3k were provided by Arkleys 4x4 (which carried out the work on the engine). Other support came from Advanced Factors (which donated the uprated oil pump and service items), Terrafirma (spring conversion), Major Mods (the vinyl wrap), Medtree (medical kits and a defibrillator) and Land Rover Passion (which provided panels for attaching medical kit, and an interior tailgate release cable).
‘It’s one thing building yourself a camper or an overlander, but the thought that this will be carrying patient has created a different kind of seriousness about it.’
The conversion process was a joint effort. ‘I put on a big barbecue so a load of friends came over to do the suspension change. Everyone has been supportive, and none of the sponsors have been wanting any advertising out of this – they just want to help. It’s been really touching.
‘Knowing the vehicles have been put into immediate action in the Donbas region is a fantastic result. Our effort was large for a small team, but it's only a drop in the ocean, hence our continued efforts to fund raise and deliver more aid.’
You can lend your support to Mission Blue Light via their JustGiving page.