Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Ex-hostage amused by WI pirate boob

Colin Darch, a former hostage kidnapped by pirates in 2008, walked into a Women's Institute meeting in Devon to find the group dressed as pirates
Colin Darch, a former hostage kidnapped by pirates in 2008, walked into a Women's Institute meeting in Devon to find the group dressed as pirates

A former hostage has spoken of the moment he walked into a Women's Institute meeting to give a talk on international piracy and found the group dressed as pirates.

Colin Darch said he was amused that members of Parkham WI in North Devon had donned fancy dress for the occasion.

Mr Darch, a retired sailor from North Devon, has written a book about his experience of being kidnapped by pirates in 2008 and often gives talks on the subject.

The 75-year-old said his hosts had been "embarrassed" by the mix-up and described the event as something like The Pirates Of Penzance.

He said: "Since I was released five years ago, I have spoken at a lot of conferences and serious events about the dangers of piracy and how to survive. More recently, since writing the book, I have been taking to rotary groups, Probus clubs and the occasional WI.

"When I arrived there were ladies with blue rinses wearing pirate hats and waving swords around. They had been led to believe it was a talk about piracy through the ages and not something right smack up to date.

"I think they were worried I might be a bit upset that they were trivialising it but I thought it was funny. I just laughed and said it was like something from The Pirates Of Penzance. They were more embarrassed than me and they asked me to judge the best pirate costume. They even bought a few of my books."

A report of last month's meeting, which was published in the North Devon Journal, read: "The speaker at the April meeting was Captain Colin Darch, who talked about piracy.

"Embarrassingly the WI all dressed as pirates for the evening, not realising that Captain Darch was going to be talking about his experience of being held hostage by Somalia pirates rather than piracy in general.

"However, once this had been gotten over, everyone sat down to listen to Captain Darch's story - and what a story it was. Absolutely fascinating and gripping. If you ever get a chance to hear Colin speak, grab the opportunity because he is a great raconteur and very humorous."

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