It’s hard to imagine the bravery it takes to drive a van into a hotzone on the frontline, artillery fire exploding all around as you try to evacuate as many people as possible.
Chris Parry didn’t know much about Ukraine before Russia invaded in February last year, but as soon as he saw news of the invasion he knew he had to go to help.
He spent months going into recently liberated villages on some of the most dangerous parts of the frontline where he rescued dozens, perhaps hundreds, of civilians.
Confirmation of his death on Tuesday comes after he and fellow Briton Andrew Bagshaw went missing on Friday after setting out for the embattled city of Soledar.
Originally from Cornwall, 28-year-old Mr Parry was living in Cheltenham and working as a running coach before the war.
He flew out to Poland and then crossed the border into Ukraine on 5 March.
It wasn’t long before he had loaded up a van with supplies and set out to Kharkiv with a few others, taking back roads and on the lookout for the Russian soldiers that could be anywhere.
“It was a ghost town,” he told Sky News in November.
“We were driving on the main highway into Kharkiv from the south and I remember passing one tank on the back of a lorry in blizzard-like conditions.
“And there was no one else on the road – and this is like the M5 equivalent so it was very, very peculiar.
“My companions were like ‘yeah this is getting a bit scary now’.”
‘I almost crashed on first trip to Kharkiv’
He said this first experience of the real war was “eye-opening”.
He told Sky News in November: “I look back on it very fondly because it was such a huge adventure.
“We broke down so much and we had so many issues because of the road conditions, we got stuck in the snow, I almost crashed.
“Lots of things happened, but we survived and that’s the most important thing.”
It seems that wherever the battle was hottest, that was where Chris headed, determined to save as many people as he could.
He did evacuation runs out of Severodonetsk as Russian forces closed in, getting people out of the besieged city before it finally fell in June.
“That was getting shelled every minute or so,” he said.
‘We were being shelled by artillery… they were watching us’
The time eventually came when he made the difficult decision to tell his parents that he had been working in Ukraine for weeks, and not in Poland as they had thought.
He didn’t want to worry them more than he needed to, but he also wanted to tell his story to spread the word about what was happening in Ukraine and how people could help.
In the days after he went missing, his family praised his compassion and care for others, and spoke of their pride in what he was doing.
Speaking to Sky News about a notable evacuation in a village east of Lyman in November, he described the scary moment they were fired upon by Russian forces.
“We were being shelled by artillery because they were watching us with a drone, and then waiting for us to park up and then they had a minute or two to try and hit us.
“We were getting hit by that quite a lot. So running to the car with people, trying to get in the car and then driving off as soon as possible was pretty high on the priority list.”
Rescuing a family who had lived in a basement for months
In another operation, he described how he and his team rescued a family that had been sheltering for months.
“I picked up a woman and she had four young children from the age of five to 12, and they had been living in their basement under occupation since March.
“Her husband had been taken by the Russians, so of course they’re extremely concerned about him.
“We eventually got them to safety. In the car they were crying, just terrified.
“But when they came here and they got out and we got them a bed and lights are on, they give me a big hug – they’re just overwhelmed with joy but also at the same time that’s when the shock really hits them.
“Because there’s no more bangs, they’re safe and it’s kind of over. But they’ve left everything behind.”
Rishi Sunak to pitch himself as prime minister to ‘fundamentally change the country’
Rishi Sunak will try to convince the public he is the person to “fundamentally change the country” and fix Westminster’s “broken system” – despite the fact his party has been in government for 13 years.
In his speech to the Tory Party conference, the prime minister will present himself as a reformer who is prepared to take difficult decisions, unlike opponents, who take “the easy decision, not the right one”.
Mr Sunak will tell the conference hall that politics “doesn’t work the way it should” and that his Labour opponent, Sir Keir Starmer, is “betting on voters’ apathy.”
The speech will round off what has been a chaotic four days at the party’s annual conference in Manchester – an event that has been overshadowed by the announcement that the northern leg of HS2 will not go ahead as originally envisioned.
Instead, services will run between Birmingham and Manchester but they will not be high speed and they will use the existing West Coast Mainline track.
The development prompted Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to accuse the government of treating people in the north as “second-class citizens”.
He warned the government: “To pull that plug here in Manchester would show complete contempt to the city region and to the north of England as a whole.”
The Tory mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, also warned it would be “an incredible political gaffe” allowing opponents to accuse Mr Sunak of having decided to “shaft the north”.
In his speech, Mr Sunak will rail against “30 years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision, not the right one – 30 years of vested interests standing in the way of change”.
He will reflect on his first year in Number 10 and acknowledge a “feeling that Westminster is a broken system”.
“It isn’t anger, it is an exhaustion with politics,” he will say.
“In particular, politicians saying things, and then nothing ever changing.
“And you know what? People are right. Politics doesn’t work the way it should.”
Poll shows most voters think Sunak is doing a bad job
A new poll of 1,000 people from Ipsos UK suggests most voters think Rishi Sunak is doing a bad job when it comes to hitting his goals.
On inflation, 57% said Mr Sunak was doing a bad job, up from 55% in May.
Some 54% said he was doing a bad job on growing the economy, up from 50% in May.
And 54% of people said he was doing a bad job on reducing national debt – up from 49%.
On cutting NHS waiting lists, dissatisfaction sits at 71%, compared to 62% in May.
On ‘stopping the boats’, two-thirds of people said he was doing a bad job.
The poll was carried out just before the Conservative party conference.
And he will say: “Politicians spent more time campaigning for change than actually delivering it.
“Our mission is to fundamentally change our country.”
As well as the HS2 announcement, Mr Sunak has also been undermined by his predecessor Liz Truss, who drew big conference crowds as she demanded immediate tax cuts to “make Britain grow again”.
Mr Sunak has instead compared himself to the late Baroness Thatcher, who tackled inflation before cutting taxes during her premiership between 1979 and 1990.
While Mr Sunak has repeatedly sought to dodge questions over HS2, he did say on Tuesday that the costs of the project had gone “far beyond” what had been predicted, and the sums involved were “enormous”.
The HS2 scheme was given a budget of £55.7bn in 2015 but costs have ballooned, with an estimate of up to £98bn – in 2019 prices – in 2020.
HS2 won’t be high speed between Manchester and Birmingham
HS2 will start at Euston rather than Old Oak Common – but between Birmingham and Manchester it will not be high speed, Sky News understands.
The rail line will stop in Manchester, but from Birmingham it will switch to use existing West Coast Mainline track.
It will therefore not be high speed after Birmingham – effectively confirming days of speculation that the northern leg of the controversial project has been shelved.
Alongside the doubt over Manchester, there have also been question marks over Euston station and whether the line would terminate there as originally planned.
There had been rumours that it could stop at Old Oak Common instead, but Sky News understands the rail line will stop at Euston in a move that could be designed to placate critics.
The development, broken on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge programme, follows repeated attempts by Rishi Sunak and other members of the Cabinet to bat away questions regarding the future of the northern leg of the project.
The government initially tried to downplay the original reports, saying they were “incorrect” and that no “final decisions” had been made regarding the northern leg, known as phase two.
But despite their attempts, questions over HS2 have dominated Mr Sunak’s first party conference as leader and prime minister.
Speaking at event near the conference venue, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham immediately hit out at the plans, saying: “If media reports are to be believed tonight, HS2 will leave central London, it will go to the Home Counties and the Chilterns underground, and it will get to Birmingham and then it will go onto traditional tracks.”
He said 40 businesses had written to prime minister tonight to urge him not to pull the plug.
“If you think about that for a moment, you know that will be a permanent statement for people in the north of England that they are second class citizens when it comes to transport infrastructure,” he added.
“It beggars belief in some ways that they are going to do this, they are going to pull the plug on that infrastructure that would pave the way for that new east-west line across the north, promised in not one, not two, but three Conservative manifestos.
“But to pull that plug here in Manchester would show complete contempt to the city region and to the north of England as a whole.”
Mr Burnham told the audience: “We say to them tonight: it isn’t too late from our point of view, you could invite us in.
“Do not pull the plug on this city while you are in this city.
“If you do do those things, people here will never forget.”
The first indications that the leg to Manchester could be scrapped came after it was reported last month ministers were considering shelving the northern phase because of concerns about spiralling costs and severe delays.
According to The Independent, a cost estimate revealed that the government has already spent £2.3bn on stage two of the railway from Birmingham to Manchester, but that ditching the northern phase could save up to £34bn.
The reports immediately drew criticism from across the political divide, including from former Conservative prime ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May.
Speaking on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge, Science and Technology Secretary Michell Donelan said the latest reports were “still speculation”.
“I know, having worked around the cabinet table with the prime minister, that he is somebody who is very thorough when it comes to the detail,” she said.
“So I’m going to give him the time and wait and see what he says tomorrow.”
Asked why the government was not confirming what is happening on HS2, Ms Donelan said ministers wanted to “get it right” on the project.
“If I was the prime minister, I’d be doing exactly what he’s doing,” she said.
VAR audio of Liverpool’s wrongly disallowed goal in Spurs defeat released
The full transcript from the VAR audio
VAR: Possible offside, Diaz.
Assistant referee 2: Give it.
Assistant referee 1: Coming back for the offside, mate.
VAR: Just checking the offside. Delay, delay. Give the kick point, let’s go. Kick point please?
Referee: Yeah, no worries mate.
Replay operator: So, here we are. Just get a tight angle.
VAR: Yeah, give me 2D line ready after this one for frame two after that.
Replay operator: So frame two there?
VAR: That’s fine. Perfect, yeah. 2D line on the left boot.
Replay operator: Let me just switch angles.
VAR: Romero, I think it is?
Replay operator: I think it might be this angle better? Happy with this angle?
Replay operator: 2D line on the boot?
VAR: 2D line on the boot.
Replay operator: Yeah, okay. So 2D line on the boot.
VAR: And stop. Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect.
Assistant referee 1: Playing.
Referee: Cheers mate.
VAR: Thank you mate.
Referee: Well done boys, good process.
Replay operator: Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Yeah.
Replay operator: Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Offside, goal, yeah. That’s wrong that, Daz.
Replay operator: On-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this image? Yeah, it’s onside. The image that we gave them is onside.
Assistant VAR: He’s played him, he’s gone offside.
VAR: Oh *expletive*
Replay operator: Delay, delay. Oli’s (PGMOL Hub Ops) saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.
Replay operator: Oli’s calling in to say delay the game. The decision is onside.
VAR: Can’t do anything.
Replay operator: Oli’s saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.
Fourth official: Yeah?
Replay operator: Delay the game, to delay the game? Stop the game.
VAR: They’ve restarted the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything.
Assistant VAR: Yeah, they’ve restarted. Yeah.
VAR: I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything. *expletive*
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