Bob Semple was a member of the Royal Engineers, his work regularly took him to the Middle East. Whilst on his way to work in Yemen in early 2014, Bob was ambushed and captured by Al Qaeda. He was then held in solitary confinement for the next 18 months, with his legs chained to a wall in a windowless, barely lit, cell. During this time, his wife Sallie was supporting the couple’s three sons and the family home with no idea whether she would ever see Bob alive again. Adding to the stress and worry of having no idea if her husband would ever return was the financial pressures placed on Sallie, having to stretch her nurses salary to cover the cost of her busy household.
Bob had been captive for over a year before Sallie began to look for help. Within days of hearing about Sallie’s situation, The Soldiers’ Charity stepped in to help. We assisted Sallie with the costs towards her household bills.
Sallie was, “overwhelmed when the Charity stepped in to help. It was such a weight off our shoulders with so much else going on. I was just taking one day at a time, but we never knew when the phone rang if it would be the kidnappers, or Bob, or the news we were dreading.”
On the 22nd August 2015, having been blindfolded in the boot of a car for more than ten hours, Bob was rescued. The boot burst open and he felt a hand on his arm and someone telling him, “You’re safe now”. On several occasions Bob believed this time would never come, as he recalls the times he believed he was close to death:
“They took me out into the sand on a number of occasions, each time I thought ‘this is it’. Each time they made videos. They wanted me to beg and cry but I wouldn’t”.
Bob is now home and is concentrating on his own and his families recovery from the traumatic events of his ordeal.