Friends delivering aid to Ukraine witness devastation and brutality of war

Two friends witnessed the sheer horror and brutality of the war in Ukraine after heading deep into the country to deliver aid to devastated families.

Gary Fear and Dave Perry with Igor Bodnarchuk
Gary Fear and Dave Perry with Igor Bodnarchuk

At one stage, Gary Fear, from Gnosall in Staffordshire, and Dave Perry, from Newport in Shropshire, were even forced to shelter in a locked supermarket as air raid sirens blared through Kyiv during one of their shopping trips.

The pair had been to the west of the war-torn country earlier this year, armed with generous monetary donations from people in Shropshire and Staffordshire. They used the money to purchase food, toiletries, baby items and other vital goods for refugees near Lviv.

But last week's visit saw them travel further into the war-ravaged country and the shocking trail of devastation in places like Irpin and Bucha brought a desire to do even more.

A building totally destroyed by a Russian missile

Gary said: "It was another really eye-opening trip, shocking and more tense than our previous visit because of the destruction we witnessed.

"I'm a fan of World War Two history and have travelled to places impacted by war but I have never seen anything like this.

"In Irpin, it was just a total annihilation and some of the stories we were told were simply horrendous.

Gary meets a grateful Ukranian family

"We visited one village, Velyka Dymerka, which had been occupied by the Russians before they left. They hadn't demolished it completely but had used houses for target practice.

"That was the village where our friend and guide Igor Bodnarchuk lived. The houses either side of him had been completely destroyed but his house was still standing with one bullet hole in the top window.

"Tanks had crushed down fences and we were shown missile pieces in people's gardens.

"The number of residents made homeless was really tough to see. Families were living in garages or structures covered with whatever material they could use for shelter.

"One school we visited in Rivne was housing refugees, including a disabled girl who was in dire need of medicine which her family couldn't get. Fortunately, we managed to find some in Kyiv and posted it to her family."

The destruction in Bucha is evident all around

It was while in Kyiv that the pair were given even more insight into the dangers residents face while going about their daily business.

"We got locked in a supermarket for two hours on one trip to buy food for people," said Gary. "Kyiv had had two bombs in the morning and while we were in a cash and carry, there was an air raid warning.

"Fortunately we didn't hear of anything happening and, at the time I didn't think much of it and didn't feel worried, but it was only the next day when a shopping centre was hit in Kremenchuk, that you have a little think."

However, both Gary and Dave are determined to return for a third time after witnessing the scale of destruction.

"We have it in the diary to go again towards the end of next month and will be banging the drum to get support from businesses," Gary added.

"Once you have witnessed it and realise what you can do to help, you want to carry on and do more.

What remains of this Ukrainian home

"If you visited without any food and just turned up and showed them you cared, families there would love you just as much. They feel very lost and, in some cases, forgotten right now.

"It's been emotional and devastating to see what has happened but it can also be heart warming too and we want to get back out there and help stock up these remarkable people."

Anyone who can donate to the pair's next trip can do so via

A child's toys bring out the emotion, showing the places families are forced to live

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