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British businessman and wife killed in Jihadi ambush while on honeymoon in Uganda

David Barlow and wife Celia described as a ‘incredible people’ who had been enjoying their honeymoon

Holly Evans,Tara Cobham
Thursday 19 October 2023 13:16 BST
Killers of British businessman and wife will be ‘hunted down’, says Uganda general

Tributes have been paid to a British man and his South African wife after they were killed in an "ambush" at a Ugandan safari park while on their honeymoon.

David and Celia Barlow were touring the Queen Elizabeth National Park in the southwest of the country when they and their local guide were gunned down by a group with alleged links to Islamic State, Ugandan police said.

Their bodies were found near their burnt-out Jeep on Tuesday evening. A picture posted by Uganda’s police showed the four-wheel vehicle with flames and smoke billowing from its bonnet, with the attack described as “cowardly” by president Yoweri Museveni.

Tributes have begun to flood in for the couple, who lived in the village of Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire, with local parish council chairman Mr Barlow being described as a "lovely neighbour" with a keen sense of humour.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni called the attack a ‘cowardly act’ (Reuters)

After meeting Mr Barlow through Hampstead Norreys Cricket Club five years ago, Oliver Laurence became friends with the couple, describing them as “fantastically incredible people who were both well-loved within the community”.

Mr Laurence, who is now club secretary, told The Independent: “We are all grappling with this news, and numb.

“At the moment, it’s about Dave and Celia’s family and close friends and supporting everyone during what is a very tragic, upsetting, distressing event – which, for any small community in West Berkshire, is going to take a minute for us to come back from.”

He spoke of his “heartbreak” at the reality that “these two people just got married”. He said the pair, who he believed were in their 50s, had been together for a decade.

In a statement on behalf of Hampstead Norreys Cricket Club, Mr Laurence said: “We have learned this morning of the tragic deaths of Dave and Celia Barlow. Both were honeymooning in Uganda.

“Dave has been a constant around the Hampstead Norreys Cricket Club for many, many years, and among the many of us who had the privilege to share a joke with him, play cricket with him, and watch as he took wicket after wicket with his famously slow action was a treat.

“He was at the time this incident occurred with the most important person in his life, a woman who we all knew so well, as Dave was so proud to share all of Celia’s achievements.

“She too was an amazing human being, who will be desperately missed. Lord Barlow as we fondly know him by will be with us forever. The entire club’s thoughts and prayers are with Dave and Celia’s families right now.

“I was so excited at the future of HNCC with Dave by my side as our chairman. I will, we will, take a moment before moving forward. But, I know deep down Dave would want us to thrive, and we will in time honour him in the right way, and at the right time move forward as he would want. Right now though, it’s about his family, and close friends and all of us.”

In a Facebook post, one friend described the Barlows as a “lovely couple”, while another wrote that she had known Mr Barlow since attending The Downs school 40 years ago.

(Uganda Police Force)

Richard Davies, a churchwarden at St Mary’s Church, wrote on its Facebook page: “We wake today with a heavy heart and the deepest sorrow to hear the devastating news of the death of Dave and Celia Barlow. This is for so many of us, incomprehensible.

“Our thoughts are with their families, their much loved friends and all who knew them in Hampstead Norreys and our wider community. We also remember the family of their Ugandan guide, who was also killed. Words cannot express how to react to this dreadful news.”

Hampstead Norreys Parish Council spoke of the village’s shock at the death of Mr Barlow, describing him as “a pillar of the community”.

In a statement, they said: “Our community is currently in shock at this terrible news.

“David was an exceptional chairman who served Hampstead Norreys Parish Council for more than a decade. He was a pillar of the community, always prioritising their needs, especially during the flooding incidents that affected the village. He was a strong advocate for the local schools, and his life was dedicated to the betterment of the community where he grew up and lived.

“It is difficult to express in words the extent of his contributions, and the village will undoubtedly be poorer without him. On behalf of the council and the local community, we would like to extend our condolences to David and Celia’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

In a statement released on X on Wednesday, Uganda’s president described the attack as a “cowardly act on the part of the terrorists attacking innocent civilians and tragic for the couple who were newlyweds and visiting Uganda on their honeymoon”.

He vowed that Ugandan forces would track down those responsible for the deaths, saying the terrorists “will pay with their own wretched lives”.

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