Chris Parry: The Cornish running coach who saved hundreds from Ukrainian frontlines | World News

It’s hard to imagine the bravery it takes to drive a van into a hot zone on the front line, with artillery firing all around you as you try to evacuate as many people as possible.

Chris Perry didn’t know much about Ukraine before Russia invaded last February, but as soon as he saw news of the attack, he knew he had to go to help.

He spent months in some of the most dangerous parts of the front line going to recently liberated villages where he rescued hundreds of civilians.

His death was confirmed on Tuesday when he and fellow Briton Andrew Bagshaw went missing after leaving for the war-torn city of Soledar.

Originally from Cornwall, Mr Parry, 28, was living in Cheltenham and working as a running coach before the war.

He flew to Poland and then crossed the border into Ukraine on March 5.

It wasn’t long before he loaded a van full of supplies and headed for Kharkiv with a few others, taking back roads and looking for Russian soldiers wherever they could be.

“It was a ghost town,” he told Sky News in November.

“We were driving south towards Kharkiv on the main highway and I remember a tank passing behind a lorry in blizzard-like conditions.

“And there was nobody else on the road – and it’s like the equivalent of the M5 so it was very strange.

“My colleagues were like ‘yeah now this is getting a bit scary’.”

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Chris spoke to Sky News in November.

‘I almost crashed on my first trip to Kharkiv’

He said this first experience of real war was an “eye-opener”.

He told Sky News in November: “I look back on it so much because it was such a big adventure.

“We broke down a lot and had a lot of problems with the road conditions, we got stuck in the snow, I almost crashed.

“A lot of things happened, but we survived and that’s the most important thing.”

It seemed that wherever the fighting was hottest, Chris was determined to go ahead and save as many people as possible.

He began an evacuation from Severodonetsk as Russian forces closed in and drove people out of the besieged city before it fell in June.

“It was getting shelled every minute or so,” he said.

Photo: Chris Perry.

‘We were being shelled by artillery, they were watching us’

The time finally came when he made the difficult decision to tell his parents that he had been working in Ukraine for several weeks, and not in Poland as they had thought.

He didn’t want to worry them more than he needed to, but he wanted to tell his story to spread the word about what’s happening in Ukraine and how people can help.

In the days following his disappearance, his family praised his compassion and care for others, and spoke of their pride in his work.

Speaking to Sky News about the remarkable evacuation in a village east of Leman in November, he described the terrifying moment when Russian forces opened fire.

“We were being bombarded with artillery because they were watching us from drones, and then waiting for us to stand up and then they had a minute or two to try to hit us. .

“We were losing a lot of it. So running with people to the car, trying to get in the car and then driving as quickly as possible was pretty high on the priority list.”

Chris Perry evacuates Ukrainian citizens from recently liberated villages.

Read more:
The missing Briton was interviewed a few days before his disappearance.
Britain is considering sending tanks to Ukraine for the first time.

Rescuing a family who had been living in a basement for months.

In another operation, he recounted how he and his team rescued a family that had been in a shelter for months.

“I picked up a woman and she had four young children between the ages of five and 12, and they were living in her basement, which she had occupied since March.

“Her husband was taken by the Russians, so of course she’s very worried about him.

“Finally we got them to safety. In the car they were crying, just scared.

“But when they get here and they get out and we give them a bed and the lights are on, they give me a big hug – they’re just overwhelmed with joy but also when the shock really hits them. .

“Because there’s no more explosions, they’re safe and it’s kind of over. But they’ve left everything behind.”

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