Chris Perryman (left) as a child with his triplets Aimee and Anthony
The triplet sister of a hero British soldier has paid tribute to her “joker and clown” of a brother who died fighting for Ukraine on the last day of his mission.
Former Royal Fusilier Chris Perryman would have turned 39 on November 21 alongside his beloved siblings Aimee and Anthony.
But the dad-of-one sadly lost his life in an artillery attack bravely fighting alongside his unit against invading Russian forces at the end of last month.
It was the last day of the combat mission and Chris had been in radio silence for two weeks from his loved ones. He was the only one of his unit to be killed.
Chris, who was also known as Pezz, had accomplished extraordinary things in Ukraine since he joined hundreds of other foreign ex-military personnel who had decided to defend the country.
Chris had been in Ukraine since the invasion in February 2022
A year ago, Chris’s unit of volunteers were part of the force that liberated the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine on November 11.
Speaking in January Chris said grateful people in the villages ran up to him and his comrades and gave them hugs and kisses with “tears pouring down their cheeks” in scenes he had “never experienced” during his 16 years in the British Army.
And now as a nation prepares to remember all those British servicemen and women who have died in conflict, back home in County Durham Chris’s family will be marking the day with even more significance.
Chris’s sister Aimee Statt shares a bond closer than most as she and her brother Anthony were his triplets.
Mum-of-four Aimee, who works as a carer in a home for the elderly, said Chris came from a family of soldiers, with both his brother, dad, and granddad all serving their country.
‘There was no time for being upset’
But she said although Chris was a hero and a soldier, he was also a “doting dad, doting family member, and the best brother”.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express, she said: “He wasn’t just a soldier, he was our family as well. I know everyone sees him as a hero and a soldier, but he wasn’t just that, he was a dad, he was a son and he was a brother.
“We as a family got to see the dorky, clown, joker, who never took anything seriously, everything was just a laugh but there was never a dull moment ever.
“If Chris was there you were guaranteed to go home with a stitch from belly laughing constantly. There was no time for seriousness or being upset when he was around ever, he just wouldn’t allow it.”
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Chris loved to smoke a pipe and enjoyed Monster energy drinks, his sister said
As well as family, Chris’s fellow soldiers are also “devastated” by his passing, and so too is his girlfriend Holly, who Aimee said had been “keeping Chris strong when he was over there with support, phone calls and text messages”.
Aimee shares what she calls her brother’s love of making a joke at “inappropriate times” and said Chris had never liked growing up sharing a birthday.
She added: “It’s our birthday on the 21st of November, it’s our 39th birthday. I did actually joke to my mam if Chris was here, I would slap him because he always said as kids that he hated sharing our birthday, he always wanted his own birthday.
“I’m like Chris, I tend to crack a joke at the most inappropriate times, I said, ‘so he got what he wanted finally then’, because I’m never going to celebrate our birthday in the same way again because the birthday is now dedicated to remembering Chris.”
A veteran of both Kosovo and Iraq, Chris found it difficult to adjust to civvy life and often told his family being a soldier was “all he was ever good at”.
Chris was ‘always destined to be a soldier’
Aimee said for her the feeling when her brother went to Ukraine was familiar to the emotions she felt when she heard her brothers were going to Iraq.
She recalled the feeling of “utter dread” she had when hearing her siblings was the same as how she felt when Chris first went to Ukraine.
But a soldier’s life seemed to have been always on the cards for Chris, with Aimee remembering her brothers always wearing uniforms as kids.
She said: “When we were little, with us being triplets we were really close, up until they joined the army at 16.
“They both went to army foundation college in Catterick just before their 16th birthday. We had been inseparable until that day.
“I always remember, when we were little, they always used to dress up as soldiers, they always had their little combat gear on, and they always had the little plastic guns with the red suckers on the end for bullets.
Aimee laughed: “I swear I’ve got PTSD from those bullets, they just constantly tormented me with them. I can’t even look at one now, my little boy asked me for one for Christmas and I said, ‘absolutely not, I’m traumatised by them bullets’.”
Chris served in the British Army for 16 years, with tours in Iraq and Kosovo
Despite her “trauma” Aimee admits she probably will get her son one of the same sucker bullet guns this Christmas in memory of her brother.
Before heading to Ukraine Chris, who enjoyed smoking a pipe, tried jobs on farms and even working alongside his dad as ambulance crew.
But Aimee said civilian life simply didn’t “scratch that itch” in Chris that he needed to feel like he was making a difference, so when the Ukraine invasion happened, she said her brother saw somewhere he could help.
She said: “Civvy life just wasn’t for him, he wanted to feel like he was making a difference, hence his time on the ambulance crew, he thought that would maybe get that itch that he had.
“When everything started happening in Ukraine it was like a lightbulb and he thought that’s where he was going, and there was no persuading him otherwise.
“I just think once a solider, always a soldier, it’s either in your blood, or it isn’t. It was definitely in his blood, and he just always said he couldn’t see himself being anything else.”
A gofundme page has been set up in Chris’s memory to help the family with repatriation and funeral costs. Anything extra will be held in trust for his 11-year-old son to go towards “all the things Chris would have helped with”, like buying a first car or university fees.
Aimee said: “I had conversations with Chris, I’ve got family and he has family, and I always said to him, ‘what if something happened over there and you’re leaving your child behind?’.
“He said because he knew his child was surrounded by family and would never want for anything, he knew his son is safe but the children over there in Ukraine are not.
“He said he could never live with himself lying in a warm cosy bed knowing how much suffering was going on over there, and if he could make just a tiny difference then that’s what he wanted to do.”
Chris with his beloved canine comrade Ice who was adopted by his unit
Aimee, who now wears her brother’s “favourite shirt” he used to put on when he was home, said since his death she has discovered the soldier side to Chris on his Twitter account.
Like his sister, Chris was fond of animals and during his time in Ukraine rescued two dogs, one called Ice and another called Shadow, who he posed with on his Twitter account.
She added: “I didn’t know he had a Twitter account until he passed, it was like a whole different side of him that he kept from us.
“Facebook was for his family and friends and Twitter was for the Ukraine, the soldier side of him which I didn’t see until now.
“He has thousands of followers, every day I am going on and getting tagged in things, the tributes just keep flowing, he was so well liked.
“To see all the serious side of him on Twitter was quite overwhelming because obviously he didn’t really talk much about it when he was home, because he would stay with my mam and dad and obviously, he didn’t want them to know exactly what was going on over there.”
The fundraising carries on
“The soldiers out there still need help, Chris was very good at the fundraising, for donations for his team and the people of Ukraine, medical supplies etc.
“I think that Chris was trying to have a platform to raise awareness that they need help.
“I’ve talked to Max in Chris’s unit, he’s French, there’s Romanians, there’s Americans, just so many different cultures over there that are trying to help, along with the British soldiers.
“Max did the cooking, Christoper absolutely would not have done the cooking, he lived on cigarettes and the Monster energy drink.
“I’ve been in quite close contact with Max and he is, as you can imagine, absolutely devastated.
“I am raising money to send to him and the troops to try and carry on what Chris was doing, even if it’s a small personal contribution, to let people know ‘come on guys, they do need help’. I think that’s what Chris would have wanted me to do.
“He’d have wanted me to help if I could, even if it is just to raise awareness, that they are still over there and they are still fighting to protect the people who cannot protect themselves.”