Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000

Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000

More than 200 Hostage International supporters filled the halls of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey in London on 7 March 2024 to help highlight the 20th anniversary of the charity.

Sir Terry Waite, Judith Tebbutt and Anoosheh Ashoori joined John McCarthy in conversation, giving the audience a chance to hear reflections on being held hostage.

The evening was opened by Alderman & Sheriff Bronek Masojada, from the City of London, who said:

“It is a no brainer for us to host this charity in the Old Bailey, to host in a place where justice is done for those to whom injustice is done. We hope that this evening will help those whom Hostage International helps – those who have had injustices done to them.”

John, Anoosheh, Jude and Terry shared how despite their differing and individual circumstances, many of the feelings and coping mechanisms they each adopted were somehow similar. This was particularly apparent in their experiences around the initial shock of being taken hostage – something they felt was unreal and seemingly impossible.

John, who was kidnapped as he was on his way to the airport home from working as a reporter in Beirut, said: “I was moving into a parallel universe, these guys coming with Kalashnikovs, and it was like I was watching a movie.

“I wasn’t accepting it, I was in complete denial.”

John explained how he was thrown into a car but wasn’t initially frightened as he simply couldn’t believe it was happening. It wasn’t until he was smacked down that he realised: “The pain was intense, and it burst my bubble… I was utterly terrified and shaking with fear.”

Jude was meant to have been on a holiday of a lifetime with her husband, David, first on safari and then a few nights by the sea, but on their first night on the beach by midnight men had stormed in and took Jude away.

She said: “It all happened so fast, but in my head, it was like slow motion.

“I kept thinking, I’m meant to be on holiday, I’m meant to be snorkelling!

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Jude was taken by pirates to Somalia and spent days in thorn bushes before being taken to a house where she eventually had a telephone call with her son to hear that David had been murdered in the kidnap. She only ever had a couple more calls from her son as she spent more than six months alone before being released back home.

She highlighted how this fundraising event was being held in courts of justice, a place where people come in the hope of a fair trial and to be treated properly.  However, for Anoosheh, he was merely visiting his mum when he was detained for years in Iran with no fair trial.

Talking with his fellow speakers, he said: “It’s that electrical shock we share.

“I was told that I had being spying.”

Looking at Jude, John and Terry, Anoosheh said: “It is that total shock that we all have been through.”

Terry highlighted his feelings of anger on being taken. He had gone to Beirut to try to negotiate for the release of John McCarthy and other hostages.

He said: “I was angry with myself for taking a risk, but also angry with my captors.”

Terry quoted his poem:

Anger rages

Like a consuming fire,

Destroying all

That would impede

Its relentless pathway.

 

Do not extinguish

The flames totally.

Calm them.

And warm yourself

By the gentle glow

Of the embers.

Throughout his nearly five years in confinement, most of it entirely alone, he aimed to use anger in a constructive way – often by writing in his head.

Each talked about the importance of support on coming home, and Jude said how she had wished she’d known about Hostage International, and now wants to help ensure that other former hostages and loved ones know about our work.

Terry said that he initially set up the charity to support the families, for whom he felt things were often more difficult than for the hostages themselves.

He added:

“I want to pay a personal tribute to Carlo Laurenzi who co-founded the charity with me.

“I knew that we needed to institutionalise things but I’m hopeless at admin. Fortunately, Carlo came along with his in-depth knowledge of charities and helped lay the foundations for what it has become today.”

Hostage International has supported more than 450 individuals since it founded 20 years ago and is currently assisting more than 70 people across 11 countries.

Please support us here in whatever way you can to help us continue our vital work for families of hostages and former hostages around the world.

ANOOSHEH’S THIRD MARATHON 

On top of supporting our 20th anniversary event at the Old Bailey, Anoosheh is in training for this third London Marathon this year. Please sponsor him here.

 

All photos ©StephanieBelton 

March 2024

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Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000
Event supporting hostages and their families at the Old Bailey, London, raises over £17,000