NW Evening Mail
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Mrs Tebbutt was freed by her Somali captors yesterday after a ransom was reportedly raised by relatives.
She was snatched from the remote Kiwayu Safari Village in Kenya, close
to the border with Somalia, last September by a gang who killed her
58-year-old husband David.
The Foreign Office confirmed Mrs Tebbutt’s release. A spokeswoman
said: “We can confirm that Judith Tebbutt, the British hostage held in
Somalia since September 2011, has been released.
“She is now in a place of safety in Nairobi.”
Mrs Tebbutt’s mother and sister, Gladys Atkinson and Carol
McDougall, yesterday received the news they have been waiting six long
In her birthplace of Ulverston, Mrs Tebbutt’s family hugged their friends and neighbours and shed tears.
Mrs McDougall, 51, said: “It’s just such a relief, it has been a long six months.
“We have been told she is well. But she has lost her husband.
“I found out when I was at school and the secretary told me it was on the news.
“I was ecstatic, I just needed to get to my mum.
“We do know she is fine and seems not to have been harmed.
“The last six months have been very worrying for Ollie her son, and losing David who was such a lovely man.
“I did believe this (day) would happen because Jude is very strong, she is a strong person.”
Mrs McDougall said when her sister is home “we’ll spend a lot of time with her and pamper her”.
Mrs Atkinson, 90, said: “At the moment I just can’t believe it. It’s been six months and I just can’t wait to see her.
“She was born here. All the neighbours have been so nice.”
Friend and neighbour Marion Danson, 74, who has known the family for
40 years, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful news, it’s the news we have
been waiting for.
“I’ll be glad when she gets back.
“Gladys has been brilliant, I couldn’t have coped like her.”
Ann Milligan, the partner of Stephen Atkinson, one of Mrs Tebbutt’s
brothers, who lives in Ulverston, said: “We are over the moon.
“We have seen the pictures on TV and she looks tired, but well.
“It’s like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. It’s unbelievable.”
Ulverston’s deputy mayor, Helen Irving, the daughter of Mrs Danson, is also a family friend.
She was brought up in Old Hall Road along Mrs Tebbutt and her family, and went to school with Mrs McDougall.
Yesterday, morning Mrs Atkinson and Mrs McDougall called at her home to share the news.
Cllr Irving, said: “My mum phoned me to tell me and I cried when I
heard, and within 10 minutes Carol and Gladys were at my house.
“I’m very relieved for them. We have been thinking of Judith all the
time and asked about her. It was a shock and upsetting when we heard
she had been kidnapped, we felt for the family.
“Everyone in Ulverston will be pleased at the news, she is a local girl.”
The congregation of Ulverston Parish Church has been sending prayers
of thanksgiving following Mrs Tebbutt’s release. Reverend Andy
Batchelor said daily prayers had been said for Mrs Tebbutt’s safe
return since she was snatched.
Mr Batchelor told the Evening Mail yesterday: “We are thrilled at
the news of her safe release. It was unexpected because we haven’t been
aware of any of the negotiations taking place in the background but it
was great to hear such good news.
“We’ve been trying to offer whatever support we can to her family and the community throughout these past months.”
He added: “We had already arranged a day of prayer and fasting at
the church today so we have added our thanksgiving to thisafter hearing
Mrs Tebbutt had been released.”
Somali pirate Bile Hussein and Mohammed Hussein, an official with
the militia Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama, said Mrs Tebbutt was released by
pirates holding her yesterday.
Mrs Tebbutt told ITV News: “I am just happy to be released and I’m
looking forward to seeing my son who successfully secured my release. I
don’t know how he did it, but he did. Which is great.”
Her son, Oliver, declined to comment.
Mrs Tebbutt told ITV News the pirates made her “feel as comfortable as possible”.
Speaking before she was released, she said: “My condition is good as far as I know.
“My health is good. I sleep very well here. I have been ill three
times in the seven months. On each occasion I have had medication
almost immediately and it’s cleared up.
“I am really happy that I am being released and I am looking forward to seeing my son and my family and I am going home.
“I feel fine. I have had absolutely no torture whatsoever. In fact I
have been made to feel as comfortable as possible by the pirates that
are holding me.”
Speaking to ITV News again upon her release, she said: “I am very relieved to have been released.
“Seven months is a long time and under the circumstances with my husband passing away... made it harder.”
She added: “There were some very hard psychological moments... but I got through it. So I’m really relieved.
“I was moved around a bit from house to house. That started when
there was some Navy Seals successfully captured two aid workers. I
think it was on the news.
“That night I was woken up and was moved around. It was very
disorientating. To be woken in the middle of the night and moved and
you’d stay there for a little while and then you’d move again.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said the case had
been discussed at 20 meetings of the government’s Cobra emergency
committee during Mrs Tebbutt’s captivity.
Asked whether the government was aware of a ransom being paid, the
spokesman said: “Our position is that we do not pay ransoms and we do
not facilitate concessions to hostage-takers.”
Asked whether officials had advised the family not to pay a ransom,
he replied: “All I can say is that we have been in close contact
“We have obviously been providing support to the family and been in
close contact with the family throughout and have been meeting
regularly to discuss the case.”