Norfolk man's mercy mission to rescue wife from Ukraine
- Credit: AP
A former Norfolk college lecturer is setting out from the UK by car to rescue his wife and mother-in-law from war-torn Ukraine.
David Shaw, 63, is planning to drive 1,600 miles to the Polish border in his VW Golf, and hopes that his relatives can meet him there.
He plans to pick up his 47-year-old wife Dana and her mother Anna, 70, who have been in their homeland, which was invaded by Russia on Thursday.
Mr Shaw said his wife returned to her home country shortly before the invasion, after her elderly mother and father contracted coronavirus.
"We've had a double tragedy," he said. "My wife's parents both went down with Covid and my father-in-law died on February 15.
"My wife went there a week before to be with them because they both needed support.
"She went out there, her father died and then the invasion started."
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Mr Shaw has been in contact with his wife. He said she and her mother were safe, but he could not reveal where they were.
"They're safe, that's all I can say at the moment" he added. "I can only hope and pray we'll be able to achieve this, there's no point just sitting here."
Mr Shaw taught management at the College of West Anglia, in King's Lynn where his wife taught maths and English. The couple lived in North Wootton and Castle Rising.
Friends in Norfolk are helping him raise funds to make the 1,600-mile trip from the outskirts of Glasgow, where the couple now live, to Poland.
A crowdfunding page has been set up on the GoFundMe platform.
"I really just want to cover the cost of the journey, fuel, food, accommodation, tolls," he said.
"I would hope to fill the car up with aid for the refugees in the border area. Thousands of Ukrainians have crossed the border, largely women and children."
Mr Shaw expects the journey will take up to two-and-a-half days in his eight-year-old VW Golf. He will be sharing the driving with a friend.
He said he did not want pictures of his wife, his mother-in-law or himself to be published for fear they could compromise their security.
More than 120,000 refugees have so far fled to Poland to escape the fighting, with queues miles long at the border.
Neighbouring European countries have said they will welcome all those who have been displaced by the invasion, while it is not clear how many of Ukraine's 44m population will try to start a new life elsewhere.
The UK government has so far said its priority is to support British nationals and their families and that those fleeing the fighting should seek sanctuary in the first safe country they can reach.
Charities have called on the government to play a leading role in the crisis, as it did by accepting refugees from the Balkan crisis in the 1990s, allowing thousands of families to settle here.
Ministers are reported to be "scenario planning" for an increase in asylum seekers.
Men of military age, those who are 18-60, have been prohibited from leaving Ukraine and ordered to stay behind and fight for their country by its president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Fierce fighting has intensified over the weekend as Russian forces neared the capital Kviv, while heavy shelling has taken place in other cities which have come under attack.
Russian troops have entered the second city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, in the east of the country.
But they are encountering strong resistance from the Ukrainian military.
While the West has said to cannot commit troops to defend Ukraine, its European neighbours including Britain and Germany are providing arms and aid.
Russia faces increasing sanctions, including being banned from the SWIFT system through which international currency payments are made.