Strange Rescue in Swildons Hole

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Strange Rescue in Swildons Hole

Postby zenas » Jan 20, 2006 4:33 pm

From Alt.Caving


From yesterday's Bristol Evening Post

SARAH'S MISSION FOR JUSTICE
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11:35 - 19 January 2006

Their wedding day was meant to be the start of something great. Instead, it was the beginning of a living nightmare for Sarah and Simon Mawadzure, which has still not ended - despite his untimely death.

Sarah brought Simon to the UK to recover from a severe strain of malaria he picked up while working as a game keeper in Zimbabwe.

He arrived in Britain on a visitor's visa in March 2003.

Four months later the pair were married, but not before doctors at Southmead Hospital discovered that Simon was HIV positive.

But, if that were not enough, the Home Office set about trying to deport Simon after refusing his application to live at the couple's Cadbury Heath home.

Sarah has told how they became hellbent on returning Simon to Harare and the clutches of President Mugabe's henchmen, ignoring the advice of British doctors that the flight home might kill him.

Officials said he was entitled to live in the UK , but only after he returned to Africa to have a new visa issued - the same visa British officials could have given him without him ever stepping foot inside an airport.

However, Simon defied Home Office orders.

He stayed in the UK and died in his sleep at the couple's home from an Aids-related illness two years after first arriving.

At that point, the couple's fight for him to remain in this country was effectively over. But for Sarah, the protest was far from finished.

Since his death in March last year, Sarah has campaigned tirelessly to get the Home Office to admit that it was in the wrong.

But her pleas have fallen on deaf ears, despite her cause being taken up by Labour Kingswood MP Roger Berry.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Post, Sarah, an accomplished caver, resorted to drastic action on Tuesday in a bid to get the Home Office to listen.

She went into Swildon's Hole at Priddy, Somerset.

After climbing down for more than two hours, she set up camp on a ledge above an underground stream and settled down for the night reading a book by candlelight.

To publicise her campaign, she arranged for an email to be sent to Mr Berry's Westminster office hours after she went into the caves.

Sarah also sent a letter to the Evening Post explaining her plight.

She had expected to spend the night underground.

But the MP checked his email inbox before finishing for the night and immediately raised the alarm.

Police rushed to the cave and called in a rescue team after failing to find her near the cave's entrance.

It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to find her.

She agreed to come to the surface, 14 hours after first going inside.

Back at her Cadbury Heath home yesterday, she spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal.

"How hard is it to say sorry? I just want the Government to apologise for the way it handled Simon's case.

"What they did was tantamount to sending my husband to his grave and they should hold their hands up and admit they were wrong.

"They blocked his case from day one for no apparent reason, except bureaucracy. His appeal was also turned down.

"He was seriously ill, but, to them, he was nothing.

"We just wanted to live our lives together, in peace.

"This Government made sure that was never possible."

Before arriving in the UK, Simon had worked as a safari guide in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

The couple met in 1998, while Sarah was living and working in Africa. They got engaged in 1999.

Simon fell seriously in December 2002. Sarah managed to get him a visitors visa and brought him to the UK in March 2003 for treatment.

He applied to remain in the UK permanently later that year, but was told he would have to return to Zimbabwe to make the application, a trip which was impossible because of his worsening health.

He died in March last year.

In September, Sarah returned Simon's ashes to his home village to bury them alongside other family members.

His memorial in southern Zimbabwe will now be watched over by his mother and other relatives.

Meanwhile, Sarah has vowed not give up her pressure on the Home Office and her MP Mr Berry has pledged to continue making representations on her behalf.

He has accused the Home Office of failing to give the couple the "respect and consideration" they deserved.

"I personally believe that it was absolutely pointless for Mr Mawadzure to return to Zimbabwe as there were compelling health grounds, " he told the Evening Post.

"I share Sarah's belief that the Home Office didn't handle this well.

"I have made numerous representations to the Home Office about this case and I am just thankful that Sarah has been found safe and well.

"Luckily I was in my office when Sarah's email arrived.

"But she should not have had to go to such lengths."

The Evening Post approached the Home Office giving officials the opportunity to comment on its actions.

However, the Whitehall department refused to drop protocol and explain its actions, instead hiding behind a bland statement.

It read: "We don't discuss individual cases. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."

Undeterred, Sarah has said she will never give up. She plans to fight on until justice is done.

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Postby batrotter » Jan 20, 2006 8:37 pm

"It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to find her."


Man, it sure took these guys a long time to find her.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Jan 20, 2006 10:18 pm

batrotter wrote:"It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to find her."

Man, it sure took these guys a long time to find her.

"After climbing down for more than two hours, she set up camp on a ledge above an underground stream ......"

So 40 minutes wasn't bad if she was two hours into the cave! :waving: However, I think what was two hours caving for a spelunker was just 40 minutes for a caver/cave rescuer. I suspect that the article should have read: "It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to reach her."

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Postby Stridergdm » Jan 21, 2006 5:21 am

Cheryl Jones wrote:
batrotter wrote:"It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to find her."

Man, it sure took these guys a long time to find her.

"After climbing down for more than two hours, she set up camp on a ledge above an underground stream ......"

So 40 minutes wasn't bad if she was two hours into the cave! :waving: However, I think what was two hours caving for a spelunker was just 40 minutes for a caver/cave rescuer. I suspect that the article should have read: "It took cave rescuers more than 40 minutes to reach her."

Cheryl


Note, if you're referring to Sarah as a spelunker, the article claims she was an accomplished caver. So hard to say.

In any case, I'd say 40 minutes may or may not be long depending on the cave in question, even with a supposedly "known" location.
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 21, 2006 8:16 am

I'm guessing the difference is camp duff versus day pack. Swildon's is not exactly spacious passage.

Either that, or the story just got badly mangled! :tonguecheek:
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Jan 21, 2006 1:53 pm

Stridergdm wrote:Note, if you're referring to Sarah as a spelunker, the article claims she was an accomplished caver. So hard to say.

Ah, I missed that bit.

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Postby NZcaver » Jan 21, 2006 4:37 pm

A tragic tale, for sure.

But an interesting tidbit about her spending the night in Swildon's Hole. Since she's apparently an "accomplished caver" - and was happily intending to spend the night in the cave to "publicize her campaign" - I'm not sure why a rescue was even called out. I guess it all depends on how she worded that email to her MP. If the gist of it was "It's all your fault, you'll find me in this cave" - then I can understand why he initiated the callout. I don't mean to sound overly harsh, but if that was the case I hope she got billed for the cost of unnecessarily tying up rescue resources.

Although Simon was "defying Home Office orders" by staying, there's nothing mentioned about the government actively trying to prosecute or deport him in his terminally ill state. Ignoring his condition for a moment, think of all the families in the world who are forcibly separated right now thanks to unwarranted deportation or unnecessary immigration restrictions. At least Simon and Sarah were happily married, and got to spend their last 2 year together in the UK before Simon passed away. Just a thought. :neutral:
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 21, 2006 5:50 pm

Clearly, we don't have all the details, but it sounds like someone who roosts in a treetop to protest loggging. It didn't *sound* like she precipitated the "rescue."

Personally.... I think the British govt learned from the Mexicans that whenever a Brit is in a cave, a rescue MUST be initiated.
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Jan 21, 2006 6:11 pm

I went to UK Caving and found a few more details. They rather contradict the news article (probably the FIRST time that's ever happened :tonguecheek: )

She was "wrapped up nice and cosy in a sleeping bag with a waterproof cover, 2 massive candles and 30 mars bars. Found by a group of cavers already in the cave, to whom she told her troubles, after which she packed her camp and departed with the group."
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Postby NZcaver » Jan 21, 2006 6:29 pm

Squirrel Girl wrote:I went to UK Caving and found a few more details. They rather contradict the news article (probably the FIRST time that's ever happened :tonguecheek: )

She was "wrapped up nice and cosy in a sleeping bag with a waterproof cover, 2 massive candles and 30 mars bars. Found by a group of cavers already in the cave, to whom she told her troubles, after which she packed her camp and departed with the group."

Aah, I stand corrected. :oops:
I can't imagine the media misreporting the details of a rescue, can you? :question:
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Jan 22, 2006 1:59 am

... and 30 mars bars.

My kind of camping!! :wtg:
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Postby MATT B » Jan 24, 2006 8:16 am

Hi,

It would take less than 40 minutes to get to where she was camping.
The MRO (MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION) are very very good and would have looked all over the upper part and down to where she was to find her, there is a lot of cave where she could have gone, so 40 minutes is quick.

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