Scots landscapers in Ukraine on rescue mission ‘raided’ by Russian troops

Two Scottish landscapers who traveled to Ukraine to help those seeking to flee the invasion have reportedly been “raided” by Russian troops.

Joseph McCarthy, 55, from Falkirk, and his colleague Gary Taylor, 45, from Bonnyrigg, set off for the war-torn eastern European nation last week in their work to provide aid to those in need.

They’ve been sharing their journey via livestreams on social network TikTok under their business handle of @ready2rocklandscaping.

To date they say they have completed two “missions” to help people get to safety – and were even asked if they supported Rangers or Celtic at a Ukrainian checkpoint as they made their way across the country.

Fiona McCarthy, wife of landscaper Joe, shared the news online

The pair had bought a new van to transport more people just two days ago and had been heading for the north-eastern city of Sumy, which has been under heavy shelling from Russian forces.

However, in a message on her personal profile, Joe’s wife Fiona said the pair had found themselves in trouble after encountering a Russian convoy.

She said the tires on their van had been shot out and the van had been “raided”.

In a tearful address, Fiona said: “Guys, they won’t be back online. They’ve had their van raided.

“They’ve shot the tires out, two front tyres. They’ve taken Joe’s phone, so all they’ve got left is Gary’s phone.

“They definitely not be back online because the TikTok was all on Joe’s phone.

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“I’ll keep you updated as much as I can but please, keep praying for them, thank you.”

Thankfully, Fiona later confirmed that the pair were safe – but were now traveling on “two wheels” having lost two tires to Russian gunfire.

She added: “They’re safe for now. They’re all good for now.”

The builders have been sharing clips of their rescues online
The builders have been sharing clips of their rescues online

Earlier on Sunday, Fiona said Gary and Joe had managed to enter Sumy with the help of Ukrainian cops.

She said: “They have managed to get into Sumi. All the roads were blocked off but they’ve managed to get a police escort in.”

“But they’re now stuck behind the large convoy of army vehicles going in.

“It’s going to be a wee while until they get to the families they’re picking up.”

However, a few hours later she said the pair had to turn back as the Russian army had fired warning shots in their direction.

Fiona added: “Unfortunately they won’t be able to get to the families.

“I think they’re safe-ish for now but there’s troops and troops of Russian army passing by them.

“Please pray for them. Thank you so much for all your love.”

Joe and Gary have shared livestreams of their efforts in Ukraine
Joe and Gary have shared livestreams of their efforts in Ukraine

A GoFundMe page launched to help cover Joe and Gary’s costs of traveling to Ukraine and providing locals with supplies has raised over £17,000 to date.

British nationals have been told not to travel to Ukraine in the latest Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.

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Any Brits still in the country are advised to register with the British Embassy, ​​which has relocated from Kyiv to Lviv amid intense fighting in the Ukrainian capital.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of Britain’s armed forces, said earlier on Sunday that people wanting to help with the Ukraine situation should consider alternatives to traveling to the country itself.

He told the BBC: “We’ve been very clear that it’s unlawful as well as unhelpful for the UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine in that sense.

“Support from the UK, support in whatever way you can. But this isn’t really something that you want to rush to in terms of the sound of gunfire. This is about sensitive support based in the UK.”

The FCDO was contacted for comment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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