Bradford former soldier vows not to let Sudan three-month kidnap ordeal put an end to humanitarian work

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sudan kidnap victim set for Africa return Sudan kidnap victim set for Africa return

A former soldier from Bradford, who survived a three-month kidnap ordeal by rebel fighters in Sudan, is bravely returning to Africa to continue his humanitarian work.

Patrick Noonan, who was kept naked and in chains and fed oranges and camel milk during part of his captivity, said his tough upbringing on a Bradford estate helped him to cope.

This week Mr Noonan, 48, who works for the World Food Programme, jets out to Kenya on a new hush-hush mission.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Noonan, whose family still lives in the district, said he felt a little nervous about returning to the continent, but he had to carry on with his humanitarian work.

He said: “My kidnapping is still quite raw and is at the back of my mind. But I am looking forward to going back to Africa. I will be there indefinitely.

“I can’t say anything about the mission. But it is a new challenge and I have to keep occupied. My family supports me, as long as it isn’t too dangerous.”

Mr Noonan was held for 86 days after his car was ambushed by anti-Government militia in Nyala, South Darfur, Sudan, where he was working earlier this year.

The rebels moved him to different locations and he lived in tiny ramshackle shelters, isolated and under guard.

Mr Noonan, who was brought up on the Buttershaw estate and is a devoted Catholic, prayed four times a day during his kidnap ordeal.

He said he believed he was targeted to embarrass and try to extract money from the Sudanese government. He was freed after he pretended to be seriously ill, but did not know whether a ransom was paid.

Mr Noonan, a father-of-two with an 11-year-old grandson, spent 23 years as a soldier with the Prince of Wales Regiment, seeing operational duties in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Sierra Leone.

He said: “My faith and my military training stood me in good stead during my captivity. But being raised on a Bradford estate helped to get me through as well. Times were tough when I was growing up in Buttershaw in the 70s.”

Mr Noonan last week enjoyed a trip to Bradford to visit relatives and friends, before preparing for his next humanitarian role.

He said: “I am returning to Africa, to Nairobi in north-east Kenya, to do more humanitarian work. It’s a case of getting over my ordeal and getting on with my field work.”

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