Ukraine crisis: Airth landscape gardener who drove over to help people escape shot at by Russian soldiers

Joe McCarthy from Ready2Rock Landscaping, has captured his incredible and dangerous journey in a series of videos posted on the TikTok social media platform.

Joe, 55 from Airth, made the journey to Ukraine with friend and colleague Gary Taylor, 45, from Bonnyrigg to rescue people who wanted to leave but had no transport.

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They have already completed two “missions” to help people get to safety across the border to Poland and Romania – but have encountered some frightening moments with the Russian army.

Joe McCarthy

They have been shot at and had tires on their vehicle shot out.

Joe’s phone was also taken along with food, but they are committed to continuing with their mission.

Local people helped to get their vehicle back on the road, and also got them into the city of Sumy in north-eastern Ukraine.

In one TikTok update, Joe said: “They got us in through a back route which was amazing.

We could not have asked for anything else.”

Joe filmed a recent update from a family’s bunker as they took shelter.

He said: “No matter what we have gone through, they are living this every day – I really don’t know what to say.”

They were also in Odessa as the city became a target and sirens went off.

They stayed with a family in their bunker before getting them over the border to safety.

Other videos have shown them getting people to safety as part of a convoy.

The duo have already helped people into Romania, and an online crowdfunder set up to support them has now raised over £20,000 with donations continuing to pour in.

On the GoundMe page, Joe explained why he decided to go.

“After watching the news all day on Thursday I decided I needed to go and help people who are stuck or having to walk to the border because they have no transport.

“Gary who works with me agreed to come along too. We emptied out the van, carpeted the back and have sleeping bags and duvets to keep people warm.

“We will pick up food and water supplies as we get closer. Any donations to help us on our mission will be much appreciated.”

The reality of their situation has since been documented online, with Joe’s wife Fiona keeping people updated after his phone was stolen.

On their arrival in Sumy, she said: “All the roads were blocked off so they managed to get a police escort in, but they’re now stuck behind a large convoy of army vehicles so it’s going to be a wee while before they actually get to the families they’re picking up and then probably the same trying to get back out again.”

But then later she had to report: “They’ve had to turn back. The Russian army have fired shots at them as a warning and told them to turn back so unfortunately they won’t be able to get to the families. I’m afraid they’ve not been able to collect them.

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

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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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