Family grateful for community support

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A sister has thanked strangers for their support as she continues to wait for news of when her brother’s Indian hell will end.

Lisa Dunn has spent the last few months waiting for the news that her brother Nick will be returning to his Ashington home.

He continues to remain in India despite charges against him being quashed by a court in July.

The 29-year-old was among 36 crew on the American-owned pirate hunting ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio detained last October on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons while in Indian waters.

They were held in Puzhal Prison, in Chennai, until March before being granted bail. But despite the charges were dropped, the European crew have yet to be given their passports, visas and belongings, with numerous court appearances failing to resolve a successful outcome.

Lisa said: “This whole situation is unreal, you couldn’t make it up. It’s absolute torture for us and the lads, they are really struggling.

“All the Indian crew have been allowed to go home but the Europeans are still stranded.

“In July we were so happy the charges were quashed and thought Nick would be home in two weeks, it’s now October and this whole thing has been going on a year.

“It was bad enough having Nick away last Christmas, I don’t want to think about if he will be home this Christmas.”

But the community has rallied to help the Dunn family, with Lisa being regularly stopped in the street and offered words of support and encouragement from strangers.

Ashington Rugby Club is holding a Race Night on October 11 to raise funds to help cover Nick’s accommodation and food bills.

Gordon Conway, club president, said: “Nick and his family are well known to many of our members and as we consider ourselves very much a community club we decided to offer to help Lisa raise funds to go towards the huge costs they have incurred thus far.

“It is clear from businesses and individuals that we’ve spoken to so far that the community is very aware of Nick’s predicament, thanks to the magnificent campaign that Lisa has conducted to keep this in the public eye.”

Tickets for the fundraiser are available by contacting Gordon Conway on 07972 348750 or e-mail gordon_conway2003@yahoo.co.uk

Money raised on the night will be split between contributing towards Nick’s costs and the Mission for Seafarers.

Ashington Rugby Club first team are also raising funds by cycling the equivalent of 365 miles in 24 hours – representing a mile for every day since the former soldiers were arrested.

Lisa said: “It’s really quite overwhelming and amazing how everyone is coming together to support Nick and our family.

“We are so grateful that the help is there. We can’t thank them enough, their support really is incredible.”

Lisa also thanked Badlanders Motor Cycle Club, based in Wallsend, who had made a “big” contribution towards Nick’s legal costs.