Families’ anxiety

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TWO Fenland families had an anxious time following separate incidents across the globe last week.

March parents Peter and Gena Jackman had a day of stress and worry as they waited for news of their son Kevin following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city.

Kevin now lives in New Zealand and his parents spent the day waiting to hear from him following the natural disaster, which saw much of Christchurch destroyed.

A lot of the communications were down, but Kevin managed to get to a phone and called on Tuesday night – Wednesday morning in Christchurch – to say he was safe.

Peter, who is well-known in March as a former Mayor of the town and founder of March Athletic Club, said: “It was a nightmare. My wife was trying to phone and email. If he hadn’t called, we wouldn’t have slept at all that night.”

Kevin was only able to stay on the phone for a few minutes as there were lots of other people wanting to use it, but the couple got an idea of how bad things were over there.

The office where Kevin worked, in the centre of Christchurch, was destroyed, but his colleagues were all safe. His home had also been damaged. There were no services at all in the city and very little communications.

Meanwhile the family of West Norfolk man Richard Vipond were having an equally anxious time as they waited to see if he would be able to escape the escalating violence in trouble-torn Libya.

Civil engineer Richard, whose sister Jackie Vipond lives in Wisbech and works at the North Cambs Hospital, has been working in Libya helping to build a new £450 million university since April last year.

His wife Lisa was waiting anxiously at the family home in Magdalen having spent days making endless calls to government agencies in a bid to get help for her husband.

Her anxiety was increased after her husband contacted her to say a Libyan man trying to help them get out of the country was killed amid confusion about what was happening.

Richard had been living and working close to Libya’s third largest city of Misurata before anti-government protesters launched a bid to oust the country’s notorious leader Colonel Gaddafi.

He managed to get on a coach taking Britons and other foreign workers to the airport at Tripoli on Tuesday but was forced to turn back after an interpreter was shot at a checkpoint by anti-government protesters who suspected the coaches of carrying Gaddafi supporters.

However, after days of worry Richard finally managed to get on a boat out of Libya on Friday and was taken to Sicily where he was due to get on a plane back to Britain on Monday night.

Richard went to Libya to broaden his horizons after working for Kier Eastern at Wisbech.