Search

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

Gwen Clarke is relieved to be back home after she and her family were stranded in Egypt. 
Reunited, from left: Aiden Clarke, Gwen Clarke, Michael Osborne and Kia Clarke.

Gwen Clarke is relieved to be back home after she and her family were stranded in Egypt. Reunited, from left: Aiden Clarke, Gwen Clarke, Michael Osborne and Kia Clarke.

Archant

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.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

An Ipswich-based law firm said it is unlikely the coronavirus stamp duty holiday will be backdated to March, despite a growing campaign. Last week chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that property buyers would pay no stamp duty on homes worth less than £500,000. According to Birketts law firm, this means someone buying a house for £341,091 – the average price of a house in East Anglia – would save £7,054. Now, a national law firm, Simpson Millar, has called on the government to backdate this tax cut to the beginning of lockdown on March 31. Sarah Ryan, head of private client and conveyancing at the firm, said: “We of course welcome the plans announced to freeze the stamp duty costs on any property up to the value of £500,000 which will not only encourage potential buyers to move on and up the proverbial ladder, but will also help to retain jobs in the real estate sector. “However, there is no denying that for some, in particular those individuals, couples and families who have managed to complete on the purchase of their home either during lockdown, or in the immediate aftermath, this will come as a bitter blow.” A petition calling for the government to backdate the holiday even further has gained nearly 10,000 signatures. If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures the government has to respond and if the petition reaches 100,000 then a debate in parliament must be held. But Karl Pocock, partner and head of tax at Birketts, does not think the government is likely to make this move. He said: “Although there are calls for Rishi Sunak to backdate the reduced stamp duty rates to the start of lockdown, the Chancellor’s goal seems to be to galvanise the housing market now. As such, much as a backdated rate cut would be very welcome news for anyone that had completed on a property purchase prior to the change in stamp duty rates, it is, in our view, unlikely. “The various residential property teams at Birketts have seen a surge in transactions as lockdown restrictions were lifted. Much of this activity was existing transactions restarting. However, we expect that the reduction in stamp duty rates will provide a further, sustained, boost to this part of the economy in the short term.”