Stranded Preston couple manage to travel home from Asia but hundreds of others remain overseas

A Preston couple who feared they may be stranded in South East Asia until May have unexpectedly made it home - but many other Lancastrians are stuck abroad due to strict lockdowns.

By Stef Hall
Monday, 30th March 2020, 5:00 pm

Deborah and Paul Marshall from Penwortham, had been on the holiday of a lifetime for their 50th birthdays - but the coronavirus crisis escalated while they were away, with many countries closing borders and cancelling flights.

They had to undergo hospital tests in order to obtain a certificate that they were fit to fly, before being permitted to board a flight from Vientiane in Laos to Bangkok, and then onwards to London - taking almost a day in total.

Speaking from her home, Deborah said: " Our mums both cried when we told them we could come home, but they both live in Sunderland where we are originally from, so we can't see them.

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Paul and Deborah Marshall

"It was a relief to see our children, and to be able to get Paul's medication.

"But many other people are still stranded, many of them young backpackers, who either couldn't pay for the extortionate flights or were not permitted to board.

"It was upsetting to see the first plane still had 116 vacant seats when we left, and even the one to London had several empty seats.

"It doesn't make sense."

Preston photographer Gary Parkinson, 53, is stranded in Nepal

Paul, a manager for Electricity North West, and Deborah, a street work administrator for the same firm, spent £3,000 in their unsuccessful quest to get home, including flights to Bangkok, Dubai and London, which were cancelled, and six nights of accommodation.

They had to shell out a further £4,000 for the two flights home.

Many other Lancastrians remain stranded overseas.

Preston man Gary Parkinson, 53, contacted the Post over the weekend to report he was stranded in Nepal with no money and no way of getting home.

The photographer, who has been working and visiting Nepal for 17 years, is in a tourist spot called Pokhara, a town sitting just below the Annapurna mountains

He said: "Food is very difficult to find and I'm actually having to survive living in a tent.

"I feel helpless and don't know how much longer I can manage in this situation.

" We need help here, tourists are desperate to get home."

" We have been notified from the British embassy in Kathmandu that rescue services are taking place, but there are an estimated 10,000 tourists stranded here and conditions are extremely difficult. "