ESSENTIAL aid collected by an East Lancashire welder has started its six-week journey to the Philippines.

The items, including soap, tinned food, nappies and toothpaste, were collected by Christian Helm, 41, from Padiham, who decided he had to help after seeing the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan first hand.

Mr Helm, who works at Fort Vale Engineering, in Simonstone, said he had been amazed by the support from businesses and individuals.

He said: “It has been phenomenal. I thought I would be taking four crates, but it has turned out to be 12.

“It is just fantastic what people can do when they put their minds to it.”

The fabricator welder will fly out to the Philippines to meet the crates, which will travel by sea, and hand out the aid.

He said his employers had been very supportive and had even paid for his flight so that he could continue helping.

It has been reported that more than 6,000 people were killed when the typhoon struck the country in November last year, with many more left homeless.

Mr Helm, who took three weeks’ unpaid leave to visit the South East Asian islands shortly after the disaster, said the biggest issue was sanitation and getting the electricity supply back up and running in cities.

He said: “The people are just so grateful to have a little bit of something when they have nothing.

“It has taken a long time to get help to them and I think it will be years before it gets right again.

“In that time, will there be another storm? We do not know, it is just tragic.

“We do not know how lucky we are here.”