Ukraine crisis: Scots landscape gardeners who drove over to help people escape are shot at by Russian soldiers


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Gary Taylor, 45, from Bonnyrigg, went out last week with his 55-year-old friend and colleague Joe McCarthy, from Falkirk, to rescue people who wanted to leave but had no transport.

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They have completed two “missions” to help people get to safety, taking them across the border to Poland and Romania.

Joe McCarthy

The pair have been sharing some of their journey via livestream and on TikTok clips.

But in a tearful video post on social media on Sunday, Joe’s wife Fiona revealed they had encountered a Russian convoy.

She 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’ll definitely not be back online because the TikTok was all on Joe’s phone. I’ll keep you updated as much as I can but please, keep praying for them, thank you.”

In another message later, she was able to report the pair were safe and getting back on the road.

“Some Ukrainians have helped them – they’re at a garage getting new tyres.”

Fiona has been updating supporters regularly on the men’s progress.

In another post earlier on Sunday, she said they had entered the city of Sumy, where they were due to pick up people.

“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.”

Joe has described how he decided he could not just sit and watch the invasion unfold on television without trying to help.

On a GoFundMe page he set up to raise cash for the trip, he said: “My name is Joe and my business is Ready2Rock Landscaping. 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 greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Joe & Gary.”

The page has already raised more than £18,000.

The Foreign Office advice is that British nationals should not travel to Ukraine.

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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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