People gathered in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to commemorate a British volunteer killed during a rescue mission in the eastern town of Soledar, where Russian and Ukrainian forces have fought an intense battle for control.
The service on Sunday honoured British aid worker Andrew Bagshaw, one of two British volunteers who died during an attempted humanitarian evacuation. His colleague Chris Parry, 28, was also killed during heavy fighting.
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Several dozen people gathered to mourn Bagshaw, who was in his late 40s, including fellow volunteers who knew him and others who came to express condolences. A small church linked to Kyiv’s ancient St Sophia Cathedral was packed for the service, which was led by an Orthodox priest.
“I remember one of the first times when we went [on an evacuation run] together. He was a very quiet person; he just wanted to help people,” said volunteer Ignatius Ivlev-Yorke, who organised Bagshaw’s memorial service.
“He felt that this was his mission. That he had a duty to do it.”
Bagshaw’s family said the volunteers were killed while trying to rescue an elderly woman from the town when their cars were hit by a shell, according to Sky News.
Ukrainian police said on January 9 that they lost contact with Bagshaw and Perry after the two men left Kramatorsk for Soledar on January 6.
Parry’s family confirmed in a statement released through the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office that both men had been killed on Tuesday. However, the statement gave no details on the circumstances of their deaths.
According to Parry’s family, 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”.
The UK’s Foreign Office said it was supporting the families. Bagshaw was also a dual citizen of New Zealand, where he was living when he travelled to Ukraine in April.
On Wednesday, Ukraine acknowledged for the first time that it had retreated from Soledar, almost two weeks after Russian troops said they captured the small salt-mining town.