Ian Umney is travelling to Nikopol in the south-east of the country to be with his wife and two-year-old.
28 February 2022
A father who has travelled to Ukraine to be with his wife and son has said he wants to “make sure they’re safe” amid the Russian invasion.
Ian Umney, from St Helens, Merseyside, quit his job as a courier and English teacher to travel to Nikopol in south-eastern Ukraine to be with his Ukrainian wife Nelia and two-year-old son Jonathan.
The 28-year-old flew from Manchester to Krakow, Poland, on Sunday before travelling to the Ukrainian border – crossing into the country in the early hours of Monday morning.
“I just feel an overwhelming need to be with my family,” he told the PA news agency.
“I woke up on Thursday and spoke to my wife, she was very upset and had told me they started the bombing campaign.
“It all went downhill emotionally over the next few days, I was angry, scared and just wanted to get here as quickly as I could.
“The only thing I have to do is go and be with them and make sure they’re safe.”
On Monday afternoon Mr Umney caught a train from Lviv to Nikopol, which are around 500 miles apart, in a journey he hopes will take around 12 hours.
Asked what he will do when he gets to his family, Mr Umney said: “I’m not really sure… I’m leaning towards getting my family out but the journey to do that is a bit dangerous at the moment.
“We’re going to have to come to a decision about what’s best for us and our family.”
He has been sharing videos of his progress on TikTok, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.
“People have commented how I’m being selfless and a hero but I’m not, I’m just a husband and a father,” he said.
Mr Umney met Nelia in 2016, later marrying her, but had to return to the UK for work.
He plans to apply for a spouse visa when they decide to return to the UK.
Mr Umney said his wider family were “completely against” him going to Ukraine and warned him not to.
“My uncle is senior Army… he’s quite well clued up on what’s happening in Ukraine and he advised me not to go.
“I just told him it is my decision, it’s my family – I have to be there.”
Despite the warnings, Mr Umney said he “feels safe” in Ukraine.
“I don’t feel in danger at all, I feel like it’s a normal day, if I were living here, it would be a normal trip from one place to another,” he said.
“I’ve not been to the east yet, I don’t know if the situation there is going to be a lot more strict.
“But in the gateway to Europe, it’s very much calm, collected, quite organised and there is a massive amount of help for people over here.”