‘He found himself drawn to Ukraine in its darkest hours’: Family pay tribute to British volunteer and his colleague who were killed while trying to help civilians on frontline of Russian invasion flee Putin’s bombs

  • British volunteer Chris Parry and his colleague Andrew Bagshaw died in Ukraine 
  • The pair attempted a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar in eastern Ukraine
  • Mr Parry’s family said he ‘found himself drawn to Ukraine in its darkest hour’

Two British nationals were killed while attempting a ‘humanitarian evacuation’ in Ukraine, family members have today confirmed.

Andrew Bagshaw, 48, and Christopher Parry, 28, went missing earlier this month while heading to the town of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region of the country, where heavy fighting was reported.

Today, Mr Parry’s family confirmed the men were killed, in a statement released through the Foreign Office.

The statement from Mr Parry’s family said: ‘It is with great sadness we have to announce that our beloved Chrissy has been killed along with his colleague Andrew Bagshaw whilst attempting a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar, eastern Ukraine.


Smoke rises after shelling in Soledar, the site of heavy battles with Russian forces in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023

‘His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud. We never imagined we would be saying goodbye to Chris when he had such a full life ahead of him. He was a caring son, fantastic brother, a best friend to so many and a loving partner to Olga.

‘Chris was a confident, outward looking and adventurous young man who was loyal to everyone he knew. He lived and worked away as a software engineer but Cornwall was always his home. He loved rock climbing, cycling, running and skydiving and wanted to travel the world.

‘He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals.

‘It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will forever be in our hearts.

‘We feel so privileged that he chose our family to be part of.’

Christopher Parry is pictured with a girl whose family he helped to evacuate from the frontlines

seven including 10-year-old girl as rescuers pull victims from rubble – Click HERE to read more 

 

The National Police of Ukraine wrote in a social media post: ‘On January 7, around 5:15pm, the duty unit of the Bakhmut district police department received a report of the disappearance of two volunteers – citizens of Great Britain, aged 28 and 48. 

‘It is known that the day before, January 6, at eight o’clock in the morning, Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry left Kramatorsk for Soledar, but contact with them was lost.’

Parry, who was born in Cornwall but later moved to Cheltenham, was a running coach before he bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine in March.

He felt compelled to help Ukraine defend its land against Russia and intended to sign up for Ukraine’s legion of foreign fighters, but said he was told his lack of combat experience would only make him a ‘hindrance’ and instead channelled his efforts into evacuations.

Speaking to Sky News in December, Parry told of the horrific scenes he witnessed firsthand in Bakhmut and the stress of operating under the constant threat of severe injury or death.

‘I went to a military command unit and spoke to a number of soldiers who described Bakhmut as the ”worst place they had ever been”. They were saying ”this isn’t war, this is hell”. 

‘Missiles were landing on the building next door, the roof was shaking. I asked the soldiers, how feasible is it to get to the location of the next evacuee, and they said it was 50/50 you were going to get shot at by a tank.

‘I think people trying to evacuate now are either being shot dead or being forced to become Russian for the rest of their lives.

‘That is why I was willing to risk it, because I know that these people will be executed out on the street or shipped off.’

An NGO director working with Andrew Bagshaw (pictured) said: ‘We haven’t given up hope, you know there’s a number of people in Ukraine who are actively searching for him, including members of the Ukraine armed forces who have been very helpful at trying to identify and locate Andrew’

Ukrainian servicemen administer first aid to a wounded soldier in a shelter in Soledar, the site of heavy battles with Russian forces in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023

Resident of Soledar sit on an evacuation train to Dnipro, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, January 8, 2023 

Andrew Bagshaw is pictured preparing to head to the frontlines

Bagshaw meanwhile was born in the UK but lived in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

His parents, Philip and Susan Bagshaw, are prominent figures in Christchurch where they founded the Canterbury Charity Hospital and made significant contributions to youth mental health services.

Their son bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine in March and was operating in coordination with the New Zealand-based NGO Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation (KARE). 

Philip and Sue described their son as an ‘intelligent, independently minded person,’, while KARE director Tenby Powell told New Zealand outlet RNZ that the family are ‘very upset’ at his disappearance.

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