Family joy over hostage release

FAMILY and friends of Suffolk Royal Marine Mark Banks are today getting ready to celebrate the release of the serviceman who was being held hostage in Iran.

FAMILY and friends of Suffolk Royal Marine Mark Banks are today getting ready to celebrate the release of the serviceman who was being held hostage in Iran.

The 24-year-old's relieved family are planning a party for when he arrives home from his 13-day ordeal in captivity.

The 15 British Service personnel captured by the Iranians were today preparing to fly home following yesterday's dramatic announcement by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Banks' brother, Neil, 26, said: It's been a really, really difficult time. We didn't think we would ever get to the end of the tunnel, but we are there now.


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“We just want to see him back home on British soil and I'll be having a few beers with my little brother when he gets back. I didn't quite know what to make of it when I first heard.

“We're absolutely delighted. I can't wait to see that cheeky smile and that laughing face. It has been very distressing and emotional, but we have a good family and good friends, who have helped to see us through.

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“There will be a very, very big party when he arrives home.”

Mr Banks said his parents, Allistair, 52, and Penny, 49, from Lowestoft were still coming to terms with their 24-year-old son's capture and were “pretty frayed”.

He added: “We have had lots of messages of support and we are very grateful for them. I love my brother to bits and I am terribly proud of what he has done. I know my parents are too.

“Mark will be absolutely stunned at the amount of attention he is receiving. He will be totally overwhelmed and I would guess he will have no idea of the attention he's got.

“He is very tough and he will have been keeping a lot of the others laughing. He would have been boosting morale and I'm sure he will have coped well. My brother is a bit of a joker and I'm sure he would have made the best of a very difficult situation.”

Mr Banks' parents added in a statement: “We are elated to hear the news and we can't wait to be reunited with our son.

“We are thankful for all the support we have received from out friends and family and we all can't wait to have Mark home soon.”

Royal Marine Banks, a former Pakefield Primary and Middle school and Kirkley High pupil has served with the Royal Marines for about three years.

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