Stranded holidaymakers in Sir Bobby tribute

A GROUP of Ipswich holidaymakers who today fear they could be stranded abroad after thieves ransacked their apartment have still found time to toast the life of Sir Bobby Robson.

Simon Tomlinson

A GROUP of Ipswich holidaymakers who today fear they could be stranded abroad after thieves ransacked their apartment have still found time to toast the life of Sir Bobby Robson.

Despite their nightmare experience the 24 lifelong friends and their families were determined to pay their respects to the Blues legend.

The group, from the Maidenhall and Chantry estates, are tackling a logistical hurdle in their bid to return home after burglars stole passports and �6,000 in cash from their apartment in Didum, Turkey.

They had been in the country less than 24 hours when it was ransacked.

A safe containing their travel documents, money and another �6,000 in jewellery and mobile phones had been prised from the floor and taken.

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Anything else of value was thrown into a suitcase and lowered off the second-floor balcony with a rope before the thieves made off into the night.

As well as taking one-year-old Gracie Couldren's passport, they pinched her birthday presents, which were due to be given to her at a party tomorrow.

But the holidaymakers - who are devoted Town fans - were determined to pay tribute to Sir Bobby, who passed away on Friday after a brave battle with cancer.

Tim Wiles, who is part of the stranded group, said: “After hearing the sad news about Sir Bobby we met some people who are from Newcastle in a bar and all night they were buying us drinks and we toasted the legend together. He was a real ambassador for the game and will be sadly missed.”

The 16 travellers who lost their passports were told by the Turkish authorities that their police crime reference information was sufficient to allow them to board their return flight on Friday.

However, they said the British Embassy and Foreign Office will not let them home unless they front more than �100 each for an emergency travel document.

They also claim it will cost around 150EUR each to have the documents processed in Turkey and said their insurance company will only reimburse any money once they are home.

Mr Wiles, 39, a car valeter, said: “The police and Turkish government were excellent, but it's our own government that wants us to borrow, borrow and borrow to get home. We are trying to find friends who can send some money.”

A spokesman from the British Foreign Office said he was unable to comment on the group's specific case.

But he said: “They would have to apply for a replacement passport or an emergency travel document.

“The Foreign Office can help families in the UK to transfer money to them, but they would need funds to do that.”

Do you have any advice for the group? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.