Monday, 30 November 2015

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West Cumbrian safe after Algerian hostage ordeal

A Cumbrian motor engineer who was taken hostage by Islamic militants in Algeria has returned unharmed.

Tony Grisedale photo
Tony Grisedale

Tony Grisedale, 60, was among the hostages freed when the Algerian army stormed the remote Amenas gas complex on Thursday.

He arrived back at his terraced home in Church Road, Harrington, last night.

Mr Grisedale told the News & Star: “There are still people out there unaccounted for. Until we are 100 per cent certain what has happened to them, I’m not making any comments that could be picked up by terrorists. I’m not prepared to take that risk.”

At least three British nationals died and three more are missing, feared dead, in the four-day stand-off in the Sahara Desert, which ended in more bloodshed on Saturday.

Overall, 48 hostages and 32 terrorists are known to have been killed.

Mr Grisedale had been at the plant in south-east Algeria for only eight days.

He was working for BP fitting protective roll-cages to vehicles, similar to those in rally cars.

Susan, his wife of 34 years, realised he might be in danger when she received a text message from her brother to say that terrorists had seized the plant last Wednesday.

She said: “Of course I was worried but I went to work as usual because I thought it would be better than sitting at home staring at the four walls.”

Her fears were heightened by reports of multiple casualties when Algerian security forces went in.

She said: “Tony sent a text message to say he was safe but I wasn’t 100 per cent sure because I didn’t know when it had been sent. Then he phoned on Friday. It was a massive relief.”

Later she saw Algerian TV footage in which Mr Grisedale appeared unfazed and praised the Algerian forces. He told the interviewer: “The gendarmes did a fantastic job. They kept us all nice and safe and fought off the bad guys. I never really felt in any danger to be honest.”

For Mrs Grisedale, it is still sinking in. She said: “This is the sort of thing that doesn’t happen to people around here. At least that’s what I thought.”

Her husband’s release also came as a huge relief to his mother Madge who lives in Workington.

The family are not planning any celebrations, however.

Mrs Grisedale said: “We are keeping it low key. We don’t like a fuss being made.”

Mrs Grisedale added: “Lots of people have been concerned about him. It’s quite incredible the number who have contacted me. It shows that people care.”

Dozens of well-wishers commented on Facebook after Mr Grisedale posted on Friday that he was safe.

He wrote: “Thank you all for your concern. Just to let you know I am with the U.S. Military and should be home in the next couple of days.

“Please everyone spare a thought for the poor souls that did not get out and the ones still there.”

Mr Grisedale had been due to go to Algeria before Christmas but the start of his contract was postponed because of an industrial dispute. He runs Tony Grisedale Engineering in Harrington and is well-known in motorsport.

He has spent 25 years working at world rally championship level and is a former Toyota World Rally Championship mechanic. He has also worked with Ford Motorsport.


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Do you feel safe going to football matches?

1: Yes - there is hardly any trouble compared to the bad old days

2: No - sadly you will always get idiots who spoil if for rest

3: Depends - some clubs' fans are far worse than others

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