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Kidnap survivor’s fears for hostage couple

PUBLISHED: 14:10 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:26 23 August 2010

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A FORMER hostage subjected to mock executions has said the best hope for a couple being held captive by Somali pirates is to stay positive, even though inside they might be scared to death . Kentish Times columnist and plant nut Tom Hart Dyke, from Lull

A FORMER hostage subjected to mock executions has said the best hope for a couple being held captive by Somali pirates is to stay positive, even though inside they might be "scared to death".

Kentish Times columnist and plant nut Tom Hart Dyke, from Lullingstone, commented on the desperate plea to the British government made by Paul Chandler to help him and his wife Rachel pay a ransom, put at £4 million.

The Tunbridge Wells couple were kidnapped by pirates while sailing from the Seychelles towards Tanzania in their yacht Lynn Rival on October 23.

In a video filmed by a French news agency, released at the weekend, Mr Chandler begged the British authorities to help secure the couple's release.

A medic was seen in the footage examining the 60-year-old quantity surveyor and his wife Rachel, 56, whose mental state is worsening after more than 100 days in solitary confinement.

Mr Hart Dyke was on a plant hunting expedition in the Darien Gap, Colombia, in 2000 with travelling partner Paul Winder. Just miles from their destination they were held captive by bandits and marched through the jungle at gun point for over nine months.

Mr Hart Dyke said: "The British government will not pay the ransom. It's a desperate situation but the government has its policy.

"It's really scary but you have got to keep going however tough it may seem.

"You've got to show your captors that everything is fine, even though inside you might be scared to death and try to persuade them that you don't have the money to pay a ransom.

"There will be a lot of mind games going on, in Colombia our captors threatened to kill us. At the time it was no joke.

"But it's imperative to be polite with your captors, be well-mannered, say please and thank you. They never crossed the boundary and beat us up, there was some sort of etiquette.

"The only reason we are alive, despite having a gun put to our heads, was a stubbornness to keep positive - with some divine help of course."

The Chandlers had been on a round the world trip in their 38ft yacht before being captured, separated and held hostage on land.

Mr Hart Dyke said: "The longer it gets the more you try and block out your family and loved ones at home. You don't pretend they're dead, but that was the tactic we employed.

"When I arrived back home to be reunited with my family it was a case of 'Hey! I've got a family,' because I drilled it into my mind.

"I strongly believe it will be OK. No matter how bad it gets, if they can be positive they will get out of it."

A spokeswoman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and are doing everything we can to secure their release.

"We remain in regular contact with the family and call for the safe and swift release of Paul and Rachel.

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