Rugby star's wife returns home from Thailand

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The Independent Online

Rugby league star Jamie Peacock hugged and kissed his wife today after she finally returned home from strife-torn Thailand.

His heavily pregnant wife Faye, 33, touched down at Manchester Airport this morning with their son Lewis, aged four, and the Great Britain RL team skipper's mother-in-law Pat Sheffield,.

The family were among thousands of tourists stranded by the chaos in Bangkok.

But Mrs Peacock, who is 30 weeks pregnant, was desperate to get home as some airlines will not fly expectant mothers as they get closer to full term.

Fortunately, the family was able to get a flight from a military airport to Stockholm, then on to Britain.

Mrs Peacock said: "It's brilliant to be back. I'm ecstatic but we just feel a bit strange at the moment. I think it will not sink in for a few days. We just want to get home now, it is all a bit surreal.

"It is different when you are pregnant. When you are on holiday in a hotel you can just stay there, but when you have medical needs and children... We are ecstatic we are home."

She added: "We were all left in the airport just to fend for ourselves. We were left just to try to get out by ourselves, we had to get in a taxi in a strange country and hope the driver was taking us to where we wanted to go."

Her mother said: "The military airport in Bangkok is just like a cattle shed. We were there for nine hours and just desperate to get on the plane.

"The Thais are very nice people, but so far as organisation skills, no!"

She added: "We would just like to thank Scandinavian Airlines for getting us home and the manager of the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok - and Jamie."

The family were caught up in the trouble in Thailand while returning home from watching Mr Peacock, prop forward for Leeds Rhinos, captain Great Britain in the Rugby League World Cup in Australia.

Mr Peacock, who picked up and hugged his young son, said: "I'm very happy that they are back and I just hope everybody else can get back soon."

The Peacocks were just some of the Britons able to return home but thousands of tourists remain stranded.

While some countries laid on special planes to get their nationals home, Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell appeared to rule out using Government-chartered flights, saying the two main Thai airports were still shut due to anti-government protests.

Thai Airways and Dubai-based carrier Emirates were among airlines laying on extra flights from airports not affected by the protests that have rocked the country in recent days.

Aircraft stuck at the main Bangkok airport were allowed to leave but some were pulling away empty.

To make matters worse, the protesters - members of the People's Alliance for Democracy - stressed they would not allow airports to reopen until the government stood down.

A spokeswoman from UK travel organisation Abta said today: "It is hoped that some UK tourists might be able to leave from Utapao military airport, while Emirates are taking people to London from Chiang Mai airport in Thailand via Dubai."

Package tours to Thailand have been suspended, as have British Airways daily services between London and Bangkok.

Mr Rammell said: "The key issue is the fact the two airports in Bangkok are closed and therefore you've effectively got planes stacking up and not being able to get slots."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "The situation in Thailand remains tense and we are following events very closely.

"We regret the violence surrounding the protests and have reiterated to the government, the army, the demonstrators, and others in Bangkok that all parties need to work to resolve the crisis, respecting the rule of law and the country's democratic institutions.

"Bangkok's two main airports remain closed but airlines have been able to arrange flights and transfers to and from alternative airports. Some British nationals have been able to fly out but not in the necessary numbers.

"We have continued our consultations with airlines and Thai authorities today and action is being stepped up to enable people to travel in greater numbers, for example via Chiang Mai."

He added that British Embassy staff were regularly visiting British nationals stuck in Bangkok and providing consular help, such as refreshing supplies of prescription medication.