Ukraine-Russia: Edinburgh man reunited Ukrainian family separated by rocket attack

John Duncan, a filmmaker from Edinburgh, has spent the past month driving dozens of Ukrainian families fleeing the war to safety.

By Anna Bryan
Friday, 8th April 2022, 5:37 pm

Since travelling out to the Polish border on March 16, Mr Duncan and his team have helped transport 563 people to their new host cities – driving over 11,025 miles in the process.

He has even helped reunite a family who were separated while running from falling shells in the Ukrainian city of Hostomel.

After meeting an injured woman at Przemyśl train station in Poland and hearing she had been separated from her husband and young children after being hit by shrapnel in the bombing, Mr Duncan immediately offered her a lift.

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He drove her four hours to the Polish city of Katowice, where she was reunited with her husband and kids – who greeted her with hugs and a bouquet of flowers.

Mr Duncan was originally planning on returning home on Thursday, however, he soon changed his mind after receiving a message from a family in Odessa, who were in desperate need of rescue.

He is now planning to drive the family – which consists of a young woman, her baby and her elderly mother – to safety in Germany.

His team have mostly prioritised helping families with children – with their youngest passenger being a 14-month-old baby named Mira.

Filmmaker John Duncan, who has spent the past month driving Ukrainian families to safety.

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They’ve also transported beloved pets. Four dogs and three cats have been driven to safety, along with their owners.

As well as driving, Mr Duncan and his team have found four host families for Ukrainians who had nowhere to go.

Mr Duncan described the process as a “total whirlwind”, and said: “It’s been really tough and hard emotionally, but also really rewarding”.

A wife and husband, who were separated as they ran from falling shells, reunite.

He added: "When we first met many of our passengers, they obviously looked miserable, stressed and upset.

"But by the end of the trip, we usually saw a smile on their face.”

Before travelling to Poland, he told the Evening News he was worried his efforts would only be “a drop in the water”.

However, after a month of driving, his perspective has changed. He said: “In the grand scheme of things, we’re only helping a few people, but we’re having a big impact on those few people.”

One of the vans that has been used to take Ukrainian families to their destination.

After helping the family stuck in Odessa, Mr Duncan will be returning to Scotland next week.

Speaking about leaving Poland, he said: “I’m torn. I think it’s going to feel quite hard to leave. But I have to realise that I can’t help everybody”.

When he gets back to Scotland, Mr Duncan will be returning to his work as a filmmaker.

He also planning on visiting Mexico in May for a well-deserved holiday. He said he is looking forward to “sitting down and not driving for a long time”.

While his journey is coming to an end, he will continue to raise funds to help support the efforts of the drivers who will remain in Poland.

You can help support drivers transporting Ukrainian families by visiting Mr Duncan's GoFundMe page and donating.

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