'I want to defend my country and fight', says Ukrainian lorry driver stranded in County Durham

01.03.22 Anatoliya Chornyi eating lunch with people in county durham
Anatoliya Chornyi is one of three lorry drivers from the Ukraine who found themselves stuck in the North East due to the invasion. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A Ukrainian lorry driver who was stranded in County Durham after Vladimir Putin launched an invasion on his country, has told ITV News Tyne Tees he wants to go home and "defend my country".

Anatoliya Chornyi was one of three lorry drivers from the Ukraine who found themselves stuck in the North East due to the invasion. The other two drivers have now left to pick up cargo to transport to Poland.

Mr Chornyi said: "I want to get back to my country, Ukraine, and get back to my home town. I want to protect my family. I want to go and defend my country and fight. I’m very proud of my country, however I don’t want war. The war is so wrong on many many levels. I don’t want children to see it, to hear it or be involved. It’s horrible, horrible."

The drivers were given a place to park up on an industrial site, a portable toilet was installed and locals from Langley Moor have been generous in offering them support.

Sylvia Smith delivered food and drink to Mr Chornyi on Tuesday. She said: "You can’t begin to imagine what that’s like until you’re actually going through it yourself. So my heart goes out to him, because obviously he could be a father, brother, son, have children. You’d just like to think, given the situation you found yourself in that somebody would be willing to help."

Anna Mae Heseltine offer him a hot shower at her home. She said: "I asked him off google translate would he like to come to my home for a shower, brush his teeth. He can stay at my house anytime. He can have a shower whenever he likes. He’s coming for family tea at six O’Clock."

And the owner of the Littleburn Cafe, Stephen Bromley provided all three drivers daily breakfasts and lunches during their stay.

Anatoliya Chornyi eating lunch provided by the cafe. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

He said: "They’ve been coming in and getting fed most mornings. Put them up a packed lunch, if they want a packed lunch later on during the day. Something to take back to the cabs, but we’ve been inundated with people who’ve been making donations, even down to haircuts. All sorts. It’s been going mad really."

Mr Chornyi is desperate to get back home, but told ITV News he is overwhelmed by the generosity shown by the people of County Durham.

He said: "I’m so, so grateful for everyone to come together and help me, especially the first lady from the local pet centre, she organised for us to move the lorries to be parked here. Thank you very much to the cafe owner who looked after me. I can’t describe it in words, from the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Watch the full report from ITV's Kris Jepson.