British-Ukrainian family in Derby speak out after fleeing Odessa for the UK

Graham and Margaryta Jones are now living in Derby, having fled Ukraine. ITV News Central reporter Phil Brewster went to meet them

A family from Odessa in Ukraine have spoken about their sadness at leaving their home, having come to the UK following the Russian invasion there.

Graham Jones, who is originally from Willerby in East Yorkshire, had lived in Ukraine for over a decade, working as a teacher.

Whilst in the country he met his wife, Margaryta, and they had a daughter together, six year old Mia. They also brought a flat in the coastal city of Odessa.

It's a city whose name is now synonymous with images of tank traps and barricades, and of camouflage- clad civilians turned soldiers.

But for twelve years for Graham - longer for Margaryta - it was home.

Speaking from Derby, Margaryta said she feared for those left behind - and for the futures of children whose early years could always be scarred by memories of the last three weeks.

"The affect that it has on the children's lives, it's terrible. Now every time they hear the helicopter going somewhere past their house, they fall on the floor, they cover their heads, they can't sleep," she said.

"I hope that there will be somewhere to go back," she said, thinking about the current threat faced by Odessa, which is readying itself for a feared Russian assault.

"I hope that... I believe that Ukraine will win."

The couple say they were woken up by the sound of explosions when Russia invaded

After weeks of saber-rattling Russian troops entered Ukraine on the 24th of February. The couple were woken by explosions.

Despite this, Graham told ITV News that many people in the city were fairly unperturbed.

"There were people walking with dogs, drinking coffee," he said.

"Doing normal stuff, wandering around. But that's Odessa in many ways, it's a laid back city."

"We both woke up because of explosions," said Margaryta. "At first I thought something was dropped at the port."

"It was quite frightening, and my husband got a lot of missed calls from his colleagues, so we started thinking what are we going to do? And where are we going to go?"

They left Odessa for the Moldovan border, travelling in a minivan, and then continued on to the UK. The journey, they say, was largely uneventful.

The family pictured as they crossed into Moldova Credit: Supplied

Until the UK border, where Margaryta said she experienced some issues with officials.

"This women - I know they have a list of questions - but some of the questions were ridiculous. One question was "what's your aim for coming to the UK?' Even though she saw my passport."

For now, the family is living in Derby - although Margaryta is aware that Benedict Cumberbatch has offered up his home to people from Ukraine.

"Everyone wants to go to his place now," she said, laughing. "Especially the women!"