Harlow dad flees Ukraine with family after terrifying ordeal hiding in hotel as explosions rock Kyiv

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura on the Rossiters' escape from Ukraine

A Harlow dad has spoken of his relief at being back in the UK after fleeing war-torn Ukraine with his family.

Nathan Rossiter, an IT consultant from Harlow in Essex, travelled for 16 days to escape the the war zone with his wife Olena and son Leo, five.

They returned to the UK on Tuesday night not knowing when they will go back.

Mr Rossiter had been working and living in Kharkiv near the Russian border for the past seven years.

But after war broke out his family headed 300 miles to Kyiv on 21 February to get visas to come to Britain.

They were intending to return to Kharkiv but when their home city began to be bombarded by Russian forces they decided against it.

The family sheltered in a hotel room in Kyiv as the sounds of sirens and explosions echoed outside, desperately hoping the nightmare would end and they would be able to get out.

Olena and her son Leo taking shelter in a hotel room in Kyiv while trying to get a visa to the UK Credit: Nathan Rossiter

They were stuck there for a week, with little food, water and insulin, and Mr Rossiter, a diabetic, was forced to reuse his own needles.

He said TV news showed horrific scenes from Kharkiv where his wife's family were still living.

"On the news here you can see body parts on the floor in Kharkiv, dead bodies lying on the floor.

"My in-laws and all of Lena's family are still in Kharkiv, they are all ok at the moment but things are changing minute by minute, hour by hour.

"We are trying to keep in touch with them and hope everyone is ok."

After their safe return to the UK, the Rossiter family came to the ITV News Anglia studio to talk to David Whiteley and Becky Jago about their experiences in Ukraine.

Mr Rossiter told ITV News Anglia: "Our main hope now is the rest of Olena's family safe and the war is over soon."

For Mrs Rossiter and Leo it is their first time in the UK and they have now seen family they have never met before. It came as a surprise to five-year-old Leo that he had a second set of grandparents.

Mrs Rossiter said: "When Nathan's father James was taking us from the airport, Leo said 'Who is that?'

"I said 'Leo that's your grandfather' and he said 'Are you serious?' [I said] 'Yes you have another one'."

To escape from Ukraine, the family managed to board a minibus to the Romanian border and are now hoping to make a new life in Essex.

But the painful memories of what they have witnessed and those they have left behind still remain.