English barber Wayne Anthony moved to tears as he goes to Ukraine border to help refugees

Businessman booked one-way ticket to go and volunteer

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Harrowing reports of the growing refugee crisis in Ukraine convinced British barber Wayne Anthony that he had to do something — so he booked a one-way ticket and travelled 2,000 kilometres to help.

The businessman, 57, from Halifax in West Yorkshire, northern England, has now swapped his clippers to offer hands-on assistance on the ground to those fleeing the conflict.

On Wednesday, it was reported that three million Ukrainians have now fled the Russian invasion that began almost three weeks ago.

Within hours of landing in Krakow, Poland, on his way to the Ukraine border, Mr Anthony began volunteering and helping refugees arriving at Krakow train station.

“Every single person here is suffering,” he told The National.

“There are so many people arriving at Krakow train station and there are volunteers waiting to help the refugees — they even have animal feed for their pets.

“The trains are packed, there are thousands of people on them. I have been volunteering at the train station and helping to co-ordinate the refugees arriving.

The father-of-two said it has been emotional seeing the plight of Ukrainian arrivals.

“I did have a little cry. It has been incredibly moving.”

Mr Anthony, who has won 50 British hairdressing awards, said he made the decision to travel to Poland a week ago and left his businesses in the care of his staff.

“I have never done anything like this before. I’m into my fitness, I’ve done lots of charity work but nothing like this,” he said.

British barber Wayne Anthony outside the US consulate in Krakow, Poland. He travelled from England to help Ukrainian refugees. Photo: Wayne Anthony

“People have said, 'why are you doing that?' But my wife and children know me and just knew helping Ukraine was something that I would want to do.

“I’m a businessman and I have up to 200 guys going into my barbers shop every week and the conversation over the last three weeks is Ukraine and how bad things are.

“I’m a doer instead of just being a thinker.

“About a week ago it was on my mind and I just decided to do it. People in the area are doing wonderful things collecting clothes and donating money. For me, I wanted to hit the ground running and physically go to help people.

“I got a bag full of Polish currency, packed a rucksack of provisions and got a one-way ticket to Krakow. I got a hostel in Krakow for the first night and hired a car to go to the Ukraine border.”

He hired a car to travel to Radymno, on the Polish border with Ukraine, to stay with a friend so he can help those in need. Radymno is about 100km west of Ukrainian city Lviv, which this week came under Russian bombardment.

“I can drive trucks, pick boxes up, anything they need me to do,” Mr Anthony said.

“When people first set off to the border many people ran out of petrol and had to abandon their cars. Hopefully, I can help take fuel to them and then help bring people back.”

On arrival in Krakow, he initially went to a protest at the US consulate where Ukrainians and Poles were calling on US President Joe Biden to help.

He met Ukrainians who had crossed the border to escape the conflict just hours earlier.

“It was a very passionate protest; it was very emotive,” Mr Anthony said.

“I met a grandmother who had just got over the border and had had to leave her family in Kyiv.

“There are incredibly upsetting scenes here of the thousands of refugees arriving on trains.”

He met grandparents Natalia and Olexandr Organiuk who left the home they built in Kyiv and their family to cross the border into Poland on Tuesday.

“She was so grateful for all the help she has received,” he said.

Ukrainian Adrian Herrsim, whose relative was an army commander killed on the third day of the invasion, helped organise a protest at the US consulate.

“I was born in the Ukraine and have lots of relatives still there and I’m very concerned about what’s happening,” he said.

“One of my relatives has already been killed. He was a commander and died on the third day of the war. He was even mentioned by the president [Volodymyr Zelenskyy] who said he had destroyed 30 Russian vehicles in his tank.

“We have been going to the US consulate but I’m already losing hope it will help,” Mr Herrsim said.

On Wednesday, Mr Anthony was travelling to Radymno to continue his aid mission.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 8:51 PM