Suffolk family relieved to be home after being stuck in Egypt during plane crash security crackdown
PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:40 10 November 2015
A Suffolk mother whose week-long holiday with her family to Sharm el-Sheikh turned into a “nightmare” has spoken of her relief at arriving back in Britain.
Gwen Clarke had been staying at the Sea Club AquaPark in the Egyptian resort with husband Michael Osborne and daughters Chenell and Kia Clarke when 224 people died in a plane crash over the Sinai Peninsula on October 31.
The family was caught up as thousands of holidaymakers tried in vain to return home. The British government banned flights from Egypt over security fears as experts believe terrorists planted a bomb on-board the ill-fated flight to St Petersburg.
The situation was made worse for the group as they had saved for a year to go on the holiday after Ms Clarke’s battle with Graves’ disease – a debilitating autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakes something in the body for a toxic substance and attacks it.
She suffered from severe depression and weight loss and wanted the holiday to mark overcoming the worst of the disease.
Ms Clarke, 40 and Mr Osborne, 43, of Fulham Road in Ipswich, were also meant to open their first shop together – a snack and boutique business in Bramford Road – while they were stuck in Egypt.
When they arrived in Luton Airport at 2am yesterday morning she burst into tears when she saw the rest of her family waiting, including her mother Eileen.
She said: “I am so glad to get back on home soil because we had a horrible time, I saw my mum at the airport and I was so grateful to be back here safe and sound I was crying when I saw her, it was such a relief to see all my family.
“It was such a difficult time, it was very often stressful. We were told we were going to fly, then we weren’t – it was all up in the air.
“I’ve not been very well for the last two years and we thought we would get some sun to unwind, to get better. But I have now come back and it has shaken me all up again because I have been so upset in the last few days.”
She said the family got home yesterday because the British government gave priority to the elderly and children – they were in Egypt for three days longer than expected.
The family’s hope of returning sooner were dashed three times when flights out of Egypt were cancelled at short notice.
Speaking of the moment the family finally got the go-ahead to board their return flight, Ms Clarke said: “I was so scared to get on to the plane, it makes you think about your own mortality and the poor people who lost their lives in that horrible dramatic manner.
“We will not go back again, we have concerns about safety measures.”