Like many here in Cheltenham, I have been growing increasingly concerned for the safety of local resident Chris Parry who is currently missing in Ukraine. I know local people will join me in thinking of him and his family at this enormously difficult time.
Chris, aged 27, is originally from Cornwall but now lives in Cheltenham. As he explained to GlosLive in an interview last year, together with other volunteers he has travelled to Ukraine, where he is providing truly remarkable humanitarian support on the frontline to those stranded or wounded as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine
In a video posted online, viewers saw how he was helping a local man wounded with shrapnel, whilst shells were being fired overhead. According to estimates in the Times, Chris has evacuated more than 250 civilians. He is astonishingly brave, as well as a man of deep compassion.
Through his selfless actions, Chris is perhaps the most prominent example of the wave support that has been provided by local people. Readers will remember the actions of Cheltenham man, Khaled El Mayet who drove ambulances to the region. His contribution was praised by US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
Meanwhile, many Cheltenham families continue to offer accommodation to those who have fled the war. Others fundraise, and I was privileged recently to attend a charity concert at the Ladies’ College recently.
The British people are supporting militarily too of course. Our country has provided more military support than any other nation on the planet apart from the United States.
As well as training Ukrainians here in the UK, we have delivered over 5,000 anti-tank weapons, 200 armoured fighting vehicles, night-vision goggles, winter clothing, mortar rounds, UAVs, and over three million small-arms rounds. We do all this because might isn’t always right, and the international rule of law must be upheld.
Chris plainly believes this too, and all of Cheltenham wishes him a safe return.
[Column first published in the Glos Echo]