Bodies of two Britons killed in Ukraine recovered as part of prisoner swap

The bodies of two British volunteers killed in Ukraine while carrying out a humanitarian evacuation have been recovered, a Ukrainian official has said.

Chris Parry, 28, and his colleague Andrew Bagshaw, 47, who held dual UK and New Zealand citizenship, had been trying to evacuate an elderly woman from Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell.

Their bodies were handed over by the Russians as part of a prisoner of war exchange on Saturday, according to the head of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office.

Andriy Yermak tweeted: “Another big PoWs swap. We managed to get back 116 of our people. Those are the defenders of Mariupol, Kherson partisans, snipers from Bakhmut vicinities, and other heroes of ours.

“We managed to take the bodies of the foreign volunteers who’d perished, Christopher Matthew Parry and Andrew Tobias Matthew, as well as the body of Evgen Kulyk, a Ukrainian who’d served with the French Foreign Legion and volunteered to join the Ukrainian forces.”

The two men working as volunteers had been helping people escape from the frontline of the war. They went missing last month while heading to the town of Soledar in the eastern Donetsk region, where heavy fighting was reported.

In a tribute shortly after his death was confirmed by the Foreign Office, Parry’s family said: “His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.

“He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals. It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will for ever be in our hearts.”

Parry, reportedly a running coach from Cheltenham, previously told Sky News in an interview that he had been driving to towns and villages on the frontline to evacuate people.

He said: “I take each day as it comes. Sometimes when you see some pretty terrible things it does stay with you. But you’ve got a job. You’re in a position of care and as soon as you pick these people up you’ve got to get out and get away from the artillery, which is constantly going off around us.”

Bagshaw’s parents, Prof Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw, who founded the Canterbury Charity hospital in New Zealand, said they were among “many parents who grieve the deaths of their sons and daughters”, adding: “We urge the civilised countries of the world to stop this immoral war and to help the Ukrainians to rid their homeland of an aggressor.

“The world needs to be strong and stand with Ukraine, giving them the military support they need now and help to rebuild their shattered country after the war.”

They said their son, a genetics researcher, travelled to Ukraine from New Zealand last April and would often send stories and photos via WhatsApp until September, when he moved into more dangerous parts of the country.