Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Coming Home for Christmas

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Coming Home for Christmas

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Brophy

Preparations were being made today to fly home British backpacker Mark Henderson in time for Christmas after he was released from captivity in the Colombian jungle.

The 32-year-old television producer spent last night in the British ambassador's residence in Bogota and will undergo full medical tests before flying home in time for Christmas, the Foreign Office said.

A spokeswoman in the South American country said: "Mark is in good shape physically and mentally but he is very tired."

Mr Henderson, who last night enjoyed his first taste of freedom with a meal of cheese and Coca Cola, is expected to board a plane later today and arrive home tomorrow.

Giving an interview via satellite phone just hours after he was freed yesterday, after 101 days held by ELN rebels, he said he had been at "breaking point" before his release.

He told Channel 4 News he first learned that he would be released from the Sierra Nevada jungle about three days ago.

Although he knew there were problems with human rights issues in the Sierra Nevada, he said he was still "slightly in the dark as to why we were kidnapped".

In a later interview with APTN, he described how he and his fellow hostages feared they had been forgotten during their captivity.

"There were times when we felt that we were just left here, that we may just be forgotten by our governments, and by the Colombian government, and it could just be that, you know, that's the end," he said.

"We feared, we dreaded - we thought Christmas is a day, it's an emotional time, it's significant, we've got to get out by Christmas.

"And if we weren't out by Christmas, we just didn't know what was going to happen."

Earlier Mr Henderson made an emotional phone call home and spoke to his anxious parents Christopher and Sharelle in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.

It was the first time they had spoken to their son since he was taken hostage on September 12.

When his father said "Hi", a joking Mr Henderson said: "Hi? Three months in the jungle and you say `Hi'. Is that it?"

The producer made the call while waiting to be airlifted out of the jungle by helicopter. …

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