Duo make emotional third visit to war-torn Ukraine in honour of tragic British soldier
Two aid workers have taken an emotional trip back to war-ravaged Ukraine, dedicating their latest journey to a British soldier killed in the conflict.
Gary Fear, from Gnosall in Staffordshire, and Dave Perry, from Newport in Shropshire, collected a medal on behalf of Jordan Gatley, which they have now brought home to his family, as part of their most recent mission to support people in Ukraine suffering as a result of Russia's invasion.
Jordan, described as a hero by his loving family, left the British Army in March and travelled to Ukraine but, aged just 24, was tragically killed in the battle for the eastern city of Severodonetsk in June.
It is understood Jordan had served as a rifleman with the Edinburgh-based third battalion of The Rifles.
Gary and Dave collected a medal on behalf of Jordan's parents, Dean and Sally, after heading to the country for a third time to help victims of the war, taking food and supplies to those most in need.
"We were honoured to be able to collect a medal – which I believe is Ukraine's highest military award – for Jordan and bring it home to his parents," said Gary. "It was a very poignant thing that we were very proud to do for his family and was no trouble for us.
"We placed stickers on our vehicle in Ukraine with Jordan's picture – chosen by his family – to mark the fact the trip was in his memory."
The trip again gave Gary and Dave, who were supported by friend Igor Bodnarchuk, a sense of the brutality of the war as they witnessed buildings that had been destroyed.
They were forced to cross a pontoon bridge in Chernahiv, as the main bridges had been destroyed and in Bohdanivka witnessed where a kindergarten and play area had been ruthlessly bombed.
"Having been three times, perhaps we have become a little hardened to what we see," said Gary. "But you do still shed tears.
"You witness places where homes have been totally destroyed and people are struggling for everything, with no electricity and gas and water in short supply.
"But it's been so rewarding and fulfilling to go out to Ukraine to tray to make a difference. The three visits we have done so far are three of the proudest things I have done in my whole life.
"We are back on the fundraising now and banging the drum again," added Gary – the pair have raised more than £20,000 to support people in Ukraine.
"We hope to go back out in December or January when people will really need support with the cold of winter."
Gary hopes that, as the months go on, more positive news will come out of Ukraine and their counter-offensives appear to be making further advances.
"The Ukrainians are determined and convinced they will win," he said.
"They are fighting for their own country and have such a passion for that. When that's the case, you are always going to end up going into it with more enthusiasm and determination. The people of Ukraine are so strong."
To support the pair's next fundraising drive, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gfukraine