UPDATE: Skegness couple ‘back on British soil’ after state of emergency call in Gambia

Alan Cupitt and Gill Thomas
Alan Cupitt and Gill Thomas

A Skegness couple who were holidaying in The Gambia as political unrest hit the country have arrived home safely.

Alan Cupitt and his partner Gill Thomas contacted The Skegness Standard early this morning to confirm they had flown back from the west African nation.

Alan and Gill were two of thousands of UK holidaymakers due to be flown home after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warned against ‘all non-essential travel’ due to potential military intervention following presidential elections last month.

Alan told The Standard: “After a gruelling 18 hours travelling I can now say I’m back on British soil and in my home.

“The troops on the ground were ready to invade on our last night (Wednesday) at around midnight.

“We heard planes flying over our bungalow, not sure if they were fighter jets or not but this went on most of the night and on our way to airport there were no shops open, garages were closed, banks were closed and there was no-one on the streets.

“We counted 27 cars on route to the airport which is a 25 minute drive – normally there would have been thousands.”

Alan and Gill first contacted on Wednesday when they said they had ‘never been so scared as what we are now’.

The action comes after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency after refusing to hand power to opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won last month’s election.

Regional leaders have threatened to intervene with military force if Mr Jammeh does not step down by a deadline later this week.

The Association of British Travel Agents estimates there are around 2,000 people on holiday with its members in The Gambia and more will have travelled there independently.

British tourists on package holidays in the country were told to contact their tour operator to arrange return flights and independent travellers should contact their airlines.

Today, it has been reported that Mr Jammeh has until midday to step down after troops crossed the border in support of Mr Barrow.