Coldstream GP talks of his kidnapping

Coldstream GP David Donovan and his wife Shirley during missionary work in the Delta region of Nigeria, with their charity, New Foundations.
Coldstream GP David Donovan and his wife Shirley during missionary work in the Delta region of Nigeria, with their charity, New Foundations.

Working at Coldstream Medical Practice is proving to be a little less risky for Dr David Donovan than the clinic in Nigeria where he was working when he was seized by militants.

Dr Donovan and his wife Shirley were captured from their high security bungalow on October 13 last year when kidnappers struck their compound in the Delta area of Nigeria where they were working at the healthcare clinics set up by their charity New Foundations.

Along with two optometrists they were plunged into a nightmare scenario, which resulted in one of the optometrists, Ian Squire, being shot dead.

They were taken at gun point by boat and for 22 days were held prisoner, guarded by men who were often high on drugs.

Speaking at St Wendreda’s Church in March, Cambridgeshire, where he and Shirley lived before moving to the Scottish Borders, Dr Donovan thanked people who had prayed for their safe return and told them of their experience.

“Initially they were very intimidating, extremely unpredictable due to drugs and alcohol, very adrenaline fuelled, extremely violent, extremely intimidatory,” said Dr Donovan.

“They were broken men, absolutely broken, and it is not my position to judge them.

“Everyone knew us in that region, we run health clinics, we make people better. We hoped they would realise their mistake and let us go.”

The worst time for them was when Ian Squire stood up to put his guitar away and was shot dead.

“We jumped in the water paralysed with fear and held to each other and prayed,” said Dr Donovan. “For the next six hours we were tormented by the guards, all high, threatening to blow my legs off, threatening to rape Shirley and Alanna.”

On the final day the lead guard insisted they tell everyone Ian had died from not eating before they were taken by boat to an embankment and safety.

Since returning to the UK David and Shirley Donovan, who say they have forgiven their captors, moved to Jedburgh and David has started working as a GP at Coldstream Medical Practice.

The Donovans have written a book about their ordeal in Nigeria where they were working as Christian missionaries, training local people as health care workers and delivering ultrasounds, malaria medication, eye tests, vaccinations, dentistry, hernia and cataract surgery and schooling.