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Jo with her children
“If a child you loved was in danger you’d just go and get them?”
Jo Cope is without doubt a WYLDE Woman, putting everything else aside to rescue three children from the war in Ukraine.We all watched helplessly as Ukrainian women and children tried desperately to escape Russian bombing with just a few meagre possessions to remind them of home. Jo Cope, 35, had friends living in the region and then was sent a text message by one of them that made her book the first possible flight to Poland. She had been asked to rescue three children and bring them to the UK as shells were exploding around their village. Without a second thought, this Essex mum of three who admits to living mostly on the breadline, said yes. Her story visibly moved Holly on This Morning and the incredible Jo shared with us the deeply personal reason why she knew she could never say no.
How did you react when you were asked to help?“I was at work, it was 4am and I’d been messaging my friends in Ukraine through the night. Then my friend Ivan messaged and said: “If anything bad happens, can you come and take the children?” I burst into tears. I knew it was really bad for him to have asked. He is always such a positive man. I was shaking, upset and scared – not for me but for them. I’d had a message from Sacha,14, his daughter, telling me they were all having to move as it was not safe. Within 24 hours I was on my way. If a child you loved was in mortal danger, you’d just go and get them, wouldn’t you? So, I did. Luckily, I had been paid that day so I could get the flights. The previous day I had about 3p to my name. My bosses were really amazing and my mum and my partner looked after my kids.
Were you scared to travel so close to a war zone?“The most terrifying moments were when the children were in the middle of the crossing from Ukraine to Poland. The men are not allowed to leave the country so Ivan, the father, could only come so far. Then the mother took them to another border but was not allowed to go any further, The children had to find me at the final border on their own. We communicated on google maps and I could see they were just six minutes away but I couldn’t see them. The kids were cold and scared and didn’t know which way to go. I had to keep telling them to follow the other people and the trucks that were heading to the border where I was waiting. I was worried their phone charge would run out. I’d been waiting at the border for 30 hours and they had been waiting their side for 50 hours. It was -2 C and snowy and they just had tiny rucksacks each, their passports and a laminated document from their parents giving me legal guardianship for a year.”
Jo with her partner
How are their parents?“They send me the most amazing messages saying you are a hero – but I am not. I just helped. I have no idea how long this will go on for. Their village has gone.”
“Our tagline is
‘empowering mums-to-be with
knowledge and confidence’
and that is so important.”
What makes you so strong?“I had a son Kamden who was stillborn, he was my third child and would be 11 now. After that happened it made me live for the minute. I don’t want anyone else to lose a child. Losing Kamden made me braver what else can knock me, unless something happened to my other children? I have to give other people the best chance they have to live. Everything I do is for him. I need to make my life super worthwhile. It is for both of us.”
The Ukrainian family’s names have been changed.
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