British floor-fitter, 65, drives Citroen van 1,300 miles across Europe to rescue Ukrainian wife


A British businessman has driven his battered Citroen van 1,300 miles across Europe to rescue his Ukrainian wife.

Steve Lucas, 65, dashed through five countries after his wife Anastasia, 51, called to say her fifth floor apartment in the capital Kyiv was ‘shaking all the time’ from Russian bomb and missile attacks.

The floor fitter and part time chef grabbed what he could and left his home at Magor near Chepstow on Friday morning and drove to the border crossing at Korcozwa on the border where he spoke to MailOnline.

Steve Lucas, 65, has driven his battered Citroen van 1,300 miles across Europe to rescue his Ukrainian wife

Steve Lucas, 65, has driven his battered Citroen van 1,300 miles across Europe to rescue his Ukrainian wife

Joining a long queue of cars waiting to cross into Ukraine and with Polish Army lorries thundering past in a motorway lane that had been specifically closed off Steve described his wife’s ordeal.

He said: ‘I had told her to try and get to Poland a few weeks ago but she wanted to stay and held on until Friday but by then things were getting a little bit hairy.

‘She sent me a photo of the skyline and there were flames everywhere, the building across the road was on fire and she said her apartment was shaking all the time. She was terrified and frantic to leave.

‘I’m glad I told her to put tape across the windows because she said they just kept rattling all the time. She was too scared to go to the shelter and spent every raid on her own in the flat.

Steve, 65, dashed through five countries after his wife Anastasia, 51, called to say her fifth floor apartment in the capital Kyiv was 'shaking all the time' from Russian bomb and missile attacks

Steve, 65, dashed through five countries after his wife Anastasia, 51, called to say her fifth floor apartment in the capital Kyiv was ‘shaking all the time’ from Russian bomb and missile attacks

Joining a long queue of cars waiting to cross into Ukraine, Steve described his wife's ordeal

Joining a long queue of cars waiting to cross into Ukraine, Steve described his wife’s ordeal

‘Her friend told her that every time she ran for the shelter she was dodging dead bodies on the road and she couldn’t face doing that.’

Eventually a taxi driver took her to Kyiv station where she managed to get on a train to the still safe city of Lviv in western Ukraine.

Steve said: 'She was adamant that she wouldn't leave unless she found someone to look after her cat Lucky'

Steve said: ‘She was adamant that she wouldn’t leave unless she found someone to look after her cat Lucky’

Steve said: ‘It was hit and miss but this guy said he said he would take her and I would sort it out.

‘He went through roadblocks and got here to the station where she took a train to Lviv.

‘She was adamant that she wouldn’t leave unless she found someone to look after her cat Lucky but in the end he went with her – so I’ve got cat food, cat litter and a cat bed in the back of the van as well.

‘By all accounts that was a nightmare journey, they were terrified they were going to get shelled but she made it to Lviv where she was put up in a complete stranger’s house and that’s where I’m going now to pick her up.’

Steve explained how he had met Anastasia five years ago while working in Ukraine and the two tied the knot a short while in her home town.

He said: ‘The problem is getting a visa so she can come and stay here with me – even before we were married they wouldn’t let her in.

‘They rejected her tourist visa twice because they said how do we know she won’t stay in Britain. The way the Home Office treats these women is appalling.

Steve explained how he had met Anastasia five years ago while working in Ukraine and the two tied the knot a short while in her home town

Steve explained how he had met Anastasia five years ago while working in Ukraine and the two tied the knot a short while in her home town

‘It meant that every few weeks I would go out there and meet her but then when Covid came along we weren’t able to see each other for almost a year.

‘The plan now is to get her back to Britain and see if we can sort out her visa – I’m just hoping we don’t get any bother when we drive back through Dover.’

Steve explained her had driven for almost 24 hours before stopping in Poland for the night.

'She was terrified and frantic to leave' Steve said of his wife, as he raced across Europe to come get her

‘She was terrified and frantic to leave’ Steve said of his wife, as he raced across Europe to come get her

He said: ‘I just had coffee all the time to keep me going and now I’m almost there. I can’t wait to see her and give her hug.

‘She said the situation was horrendous but she’s been well looked after, a charity took her to this person’s house when she arrived at Lviv and that’s where I’m going.’

Steve added: ‘It breaks my heart to see what the Russians are doing to Kyiv, it’s such a beautiful city. The area where she lives has been bombed and there are bodies everywhere.

‘She told me she had met an ambulance man who was carrying a dead child’s body – it’s awful what the Russians are doing.’ 

The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and MailOnline UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE 

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate 

To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

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Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

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