King’s Lynn care worker “delighted” as husband escapes crisis-hit Libya
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 February 2011 | UPDATED: 17:04 01 March 2011
Archant Â© 2011
An engineer from West Norfolk is expected to fly home today after fleeing crisis-hit Libya - much to the delight of his family.
Richard Vipond, 48, had been stuck at a building site in Misratah ever since the chaos started in the African country earlier this month.
But over the weekend, Mr Vipond managed to escape the country with other Europeans by boarding a ship for Italy.
After 36 gruelling hours at sea, the vessel docked in Sicily and the 48-year-old was put up in a hotel by the Italian government.
Mr Vipond then called his family, who live in Magdalen, near Kings’ Lynn, early yesterday morning to tell him he was safe.
His wife Lisa, 42, said: “We hadn’t heard from Richard for a couple of days and then the phone went at around 5.45am and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good or bad news.
“Then I heard Richard’s voice and he told me he had got out of Libya and had been on a boat for 36 hours but was now resting in a hotel in Sicily.
“He hasn’t gone into too much detail about how he got to the port from the camp in Misratah but he said the journey was not pleasant.
“It was such a relief to hear his voice and to know he managed to get out. I didn’t even mind him waking me up so early on a Sunday morning.”
Mr Vipond went to Libya last April after working for Kier Eastern in Wisbech as a project manager to help fund his son, Daniel, 20, through his course at the University of East Anglia.
He was working in an advisory capacity for the Libyan Government on the building of a £450-million university.
The university is about three miles outside the city of Misurata which has been the scene of major demonstrations against the country’s notorious leader, Colonel Gaddafi.
Mrs Vipond continued: “Richard told me he has got a meeting with the British consulate in Sicily and hopefully he will be able to fly home [today].
“He said he was so relieved to finally be out of Libya and that he didn’t mind even if he had to take a camel to get to Italy. We are all so grateful to the Italian government and Richard said they have been brilliant.
“The last thing he said was that he was very tired which is totally understandable because worry is worst than physical work with how it drains you.”
Last night, Mrs Vipond said the family was on stand-by waiting to hear what time her husband was due to land at Gatwick Airport after a four-hour flight from Catania.
She added: “We are all going to pick him up from Gatwick and I cannot wait to see him again.
“We have been through so much over the last week and it has been a living nightmare at times but at least now I can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
She said the family is still “furious” at the British government and will be for years to come.
She added: “Our government is completely to blame and has shown total incompetence in dealing with this situation.”
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