Two Britons missing in Ukraine were killed while trying to carry out a humanitarian evacuation in the east of the country, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Chris Parry, 28, and his colleague Andrew Bagshaw, 47 – who held dual UK and New Zealand citizenship – had been attempting the evacuation of an elderly woman from Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell, Bagshaw’s family said in a statement.
The men had been working as volunteers, helping people escape the frontline of the war started by Russia in February 2022.
In an earlier statement, the Parry family announced “with great sadness” that the two men had died. Paying tribute to Chris, it said: “His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.
“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.”
Bagshaw’s parents, Prof Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw, who founded the Canterbury Charity hospital, said they were among “many parents who grieve the deaths of their sons and daughters”, adding: “We urge the civilised countries of the world to stop this immoral war and to help the Ukrainians to rid their homeland of an aggressor.
“The world needs to be strong and stand with Ukraine, giving them the military support, they need now and, help to rebuild their shattered country after the war.”
Parry, reportedly a running coach from Cheltenham, had recently told Sky News that he had been driving to towns and villages on the frontline to evacuate residents.
He said: “I take each day as it comes. Sometimes when you see some pretty terrible things it does stay with you. But you’ve got a job. You’re in a position of care and as soon as you pick these people up you’ve got to get out and get away from the artillery, which is constantly going off around us.”
Bagshaw went to Ukraine from New Zealand, and had been delivering aid and evacuating citizens, according to a statement provided to the Guardian by the group Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation.
New Zealand’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it extended “our condolences to the Bagshaw and Parry families at this difficult time”. The statement added: “For privacy reasons, no further information will be provided.”
In August, Bagshaw, a genetics researcher, told the New Zealand news outlet Stuff he had been evacuating mostly elderly people from the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar for about a month.
Earlier in January the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed his forces had found the body of one of the men. In a statement published on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin did not mention the name of the dead man but said documents belonging to both Britons had been found on his body.
The statement was posted alongside a photo that appeared to show passports bearing the names of Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry.
The pair were last known to have been travelling from Kramatorsk to Soledar, in east Ukraine, on 6 January. The salt mining town has endured heavy fighting as part of Moscow’s months-long offensive to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.