Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting EJ NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Shipwreck couple conquer their fear
BACK ON BOARD: Derek and Viv Ebbage from Westmancote, who have decided to get back on a cruise ship.
A COUPLE who survived the Costa Concordia shipwreck have conquered their fears of ever setting foot on a liner after taking their first cruise since the disaster.
Viv and Derek Ebbage of Westmancote, near Bredon, could have been forgiven for steering clear of cruisers altogether after being aboard the doomed ship when it ran aground in January, near the tiny Italian Island of Giglio with the loss of 32 people.
But they always vowed to go back aboard, and it was Mr Ebbage who surprised his wife with a short trip to ease them back into cruising in July, marking their 45th wedding anniversary.
The trip went well but Mrs Ebbage said the moment the passengers gathered for the safety talk the memories of her terrifying experience hit her.
She said: “The only thing that really spooked me was the boat drill. Seeing all those people with their orange life vests getting together was really horrible.
I think it was the sheer quantity of people being quiet and listening in their jackets.
“I kept saying ‘at least we haven’t sailed and are having the drill because we didn’t on the Costa Concordia’. Apart from that it was lovely and very luxurious.”
The couple spent two nights on the Queen Mary II and travelled from Hamburg in Germany to Southampton, arriving on Friday, July 27.
“I had no idea where we were going before we left,” said Mrs Ebbage.
“Derek organised it all and I just went along from place to place.
“We spent the night in Hamburg then packed up and went to the docks and there was the Queen Mary II. I looked at it and said, ‘no, are we?’”
The retired teachers were among the 4,200 people on the Italian cruiser in January, of which 32 died in the disaster.
They spoke to the Journal days afterwards and told how they were nearly left behind after making way for other passengers to escape.
They have since been offered 11,000 euro (£9,000) in compensation.
Mrs Ebbage said she was going to accept this amount, but her husband is still undecided.
Following the incident Mrs Ebbage has been giving talks about the experience. She likes to say they have “talked their way through it”.
“Probably the cruise has helped us to move on,” added Mrs Ebbage.
“We have also had a huge amount of love and support. It’s still unbelievable but you cannot dwell on these things, you have to move forward.”