This is the story of how, over a period of one hundred and ninety-two days, I was torn away from the life I knew and loved, and dragged down to the depths of despair; of how I endured enforced isolation and near-starvation at the hands of Somali pirates; and of how I made a choice to survive by any and all means that I could muster. In September 2011 Judith Tebbutt and her husband David set out on an adventurous holiday to Kenya. A couple for thirty-three years, they had first met in Zambia: Africa had played a major part in their life together. After a joyous week on safari in the Masai Mara, they flew on to a beach resort forty kilometres south of Somalia. And there, in the early hours of 11 September, tragedy struck them. Judith was torn away from David by a band of armed pirates, dragged over sea and land to a village in the arid heart of lawless Somalia, and there held hostage in a squalid room, a ransom on her head. There, too, she learned the terrible truth that the responsibility of securing her release now rested with her son Ollie. But though she was isolated, intimidated and near-starved, Judith resolved to survive - walking endless circuits of her nine-foot prison, trying to make her captors see her as a human being, keeping her faith at all times in Ollie. Powerful, moving and at times quite devastating, this is Judith Tebbutt's story in her own words. It is a memoir of the life she shared with her beloved husband, an unflinching account of the ordeal that overturned her world, and a testament to the inner resilience and familial love that sustained her through captivity. There is nothing so bad in life as to have no hope - to believe you have been defeated, to give in to that. Now that I found myself in confinement, four thousand miles from home under a hostile sky, I would not accept that fate for myself.
Judith Tebbutt was born in 1954 in Ulverston, Cumbria. She has four brothers and a sister, and her mother and siblings still live in Ulverston. Judith met her husband David in 1979 while they were both living in Zambia. They married in 1985 and had their son Ollie in 1986. Judith trained as a mental health social worker, qualifying in 1999, and worked in a community drug and alcohol team before being employed in a medium-secure psychiatric hospital, where she was the senior social worker in the women's service. Judith continues to live in the same house that she shared with David for twenty years.