'I could never say enough thanks to the people of Kent'

A lorry driver has thanked Kent residents for their “unbelievable” generosity during the French border chaos which left him stranded in the county. Via a Facebook post, German national Alex Nolting sparked a campaign in Ashford to provide drivers with showers, food and drink.

Mr Nolting was stuck on the M20 in Ashford Mr Nolting was stuck on the M20 in Ashford

The Holiday Inn in Hothfield opened its doors to the stranded truckers as many people donated money to allow drivers to use the hotel’s facilities. The 23-year-old from Bad Oeynhausen was among the thousands who eventually managed to cross the Channel following days stuck on the M20.

Speaking after his safe return, Mr Nolting said: “Unfortunately, I was alone in the truck on Christmas Eve, but I eventually arrived home on Christmas Day at about 10pm.

“We made up for everything on Christmas Day, as my family waited until I got home so that we could all celebrate Christmas together. “It was a short Christmas, but the people of Ashford still made Christmas indescribable for me in a different way.

Truck driver Alex Nolting had been stuck in Kent for days Truck driver Alex Nolting had been stuck in Kent for days

“I want to tell the people of Ashford and Kent that they were just amazing for what they did. It was just indescribable how great the help was from the people.

“I could never say enough thanks to the people of Ashford and Kent.

“Thanks again to the wonderful people from Ashford and Kent, I will never forget you and you are in my heart.” Ashford’s Abbie Spicer, 22, was one of the instigators of the donation campaign, and also thanked residents for their generosity. Raising GBP300 in the effort’s first hour, she said: “To all of those who donated, thank you so much.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year.”

Alex Nolting took a picture to mark his safe return to Germany Alex Nolting took a picture to mark his safe return to Germany

Another generous act seen in the area came from Mersham villagers, who lowered food and supplies from bridges over the M20 to drivers below. Truckers’ Christmas spirits were also lifted by nine-year-old LaCie Coker, who sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas from outside her house on the big day. Family friend Nicola Kennedy said of the Ashford singer: “She got up Christmas morning, feeling sad for the lorry drivers so decided to try to cheer them up.

“She made a merry Christmas banner and went out and sang happy Christmas to them with her microphone, and each time the lorries moved along she sang some more. LaCie Coker received a thunderous thank you for her rendition of a classic Christmas tune “The lorry drivers were waving and tooting and filming her.

“Then a bit later on, LaCie, her sister Alicia and mum Charlotte spent an hour on the bridge in the freezing cold, again with their banner and LaCie sang her heart out.”

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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