UK Cypriot Andreas Evangelou, arrived in Ukraine on Monday (March 14) and is now travelling 450 to 600 miles a day to help Ukrainians get to safety.
Andreas Evangelou 62 was born in London his parents from Mia Milia and Larnaca.
He grew up in the West End and attended All Souls Primary School and Quinton Kynaston secondary School in St Johns Wood. His family later moved to Arnos Grove.
When he married he moved to Plymouth and now lives in Hereford.He is the co owner of Annabelle night club.
He made the extraordinary decision to drive to the Ukraine border alone and help taxi fleeing refugees to safety. Ukrainian citizens have fled their homeland after Russian forces invaded the country, capturing Kherson and continuing to bombard the capital of Kyiv. The UN estimates more than 75,000 children a day are being made refugees.
He is now based between two refugee camps, Hrubieszow and Zamosc. Andreeas now makes three to four journeys a day from the refugee camps to the city of Lublin in Poland, totalling more than 150 miles.
He said: “I’m driving to these refugee clearing stations and I’m offering my services free of charge, it’s a free taxi service from either of these refugee stations to Lublin (Poland). It has a trainline that goes into Europe, the majority of the people in these two camps are going to Warsaw and Kraków in huge convoys. I could do with three or four vehicles like me but I’m the only one. It’s a four hour round trip and I’m doing three, maybe four trips a day.”
Before departing his home in the UK he says he needed to have a very difficult conversation with his wife, Lindsey Owen.
When he told her of his decision he burst into tears but told her “I have to do this”. Andreas said “I do love her dearly and I do miss her dearly but I’m compelled to be fighting this battle”. Andreas he understands the trauma facing Ukrainian people after his own people were displaced by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
So I’ve drawn a complete parallel between what happened to me when i was 14.
Most of my family in Cyprus became refugees my father lost all his money in Cyprus and was still paying for it years after because he borrowed the money in England and had to continue paying although he lost his business.
Although travelling alone to an active warzone the 62-year-old says he had no fear of the conflict but as a diabetic with a heart condition he says he just hopes he “can go the course”.
Discussing the truly awful scenes in Ukraine, Andreas said: “I have seen a river of tears. I’ve seen shock, I’ve seen children walking around aimlessly in shock, I’ve seen women crying, I’ve seen women collapsing on the floor and I’ve heard stories that would make your blood curdle.
“These women have left all their men behind in Ukraine to fight for European freedom. All I can feel is the shock and horror displayed…it’s incredible, it’s overwhelming. When I go into the centre every time I finish my trip and I go in it’s just a mayhem of emotions.”
Despite the awful tales of his time in Ukraine, Andreas wants as many people from the UK to follow in his footsteps and says he wished he had ten drivers with him.
He said: “I would encourage anyone brave enough and has the time and a little bit of funding to come out here and help. I wish I had ten drivers with me to help because I’m having to pick and choose who comes with me. I wish I had a bus, I wish I had a fleet of buses. I will be coming back and I will be coming back with a minibus. Let me just add, if my wife supports me.”