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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Families describe joy and relief
Lieutenant Felix Carman's mother Alison with a neighbour
Lieutenant Felix Carman's mother Alison celebrates his release
Relatives and friends of the Royal Navy crew captured by Iran have spoken of their relief and joy at the announcement of their release.

The family of Royal Marine Adam Sperry, 22, of Aylestone, Leicester, said it was "the best present imaginable".

The father of Leading Seaman Chris Coe, 31, from the Dalton area of Huddersfield, said his family were "jumping for joy".

The 15 personnel had been held by Iran since 23 March.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the 15 were freed as a "gift".

'Big thank you'

Making the announcement at a news conference marking the Persian New Year, the president said the crew would be taken to Tehran airport and flown home within hours.

Marine Sperry's mother, Sandra, said: "I just can't believe it. I never expected this, this afternoon.

"And I won't believe it until he's in my arms and I've put my arms around him. But it is absolutely fantastic."

His uncle, Roy Cooper, said the one thing the family had wanted was Marine Sperry's safe return in time for Easter.

"I want to say a big thanks to everyone for getting them back before Easter.

Wife, everybody, all the family jumping for joy
Leading Seaman Coe's father, Stephen

"It has been so stressful for Adam's mum and grandma and this is the best Easter present they could have."

Leading Seaman Coe's father, Stephen, described the news as "absolutely fantastic".

"Over the moon. Wife, everybody, all the family jumping for joy. People dashing home from work."

Asked how difficult the last 13 days had been, he said: "Very. The wife and his sister - it's hit them hard but myself and his brother-in-law have been keeping them strong."

He said the Ministry of Defence had been "absolutely fantastic" and had phoned the family two or three times a day.

'Dark days'

Matthew Lake, Leading Seaman Coe's brother-in-law, described how the family felt when it heard the news.

"Absolutely joyous and overwhelmed. Now we just want to get him home - that's the main thing.

"We know he's been released but when we know with our own eyes that he's safe and well, then we can start to put it all finally behind us and recuperate and get us close to the family."

You hope and pray for news like this and then it happens so suddenly
Captain Chris Air's mother, Sally

Captain Chris Air's mother, Sally, said she had gone through "very dark days" after her eldest son was captured by Iran.

Alongside her husband Robin at the family home in Altrincham, Cheshire, Mrs Air, 51, said: "There have been some very dark days over the last two weeks.

"Obviously we are delighted at the news but it all feels a little surreal.

"You hope and pray for news like this and then it happens so suddenly. It feels a little bit unreal."

Robin and Sally Air, parents of captive Captain Chris Air
Captain Chris Air's parents, Robin and Sally, were relieved

She said footage of Captain Air, 25, who was shown on Iranian state television in front of a map of the Gulf, had been "upsetting" to watch.

"You just imagine what might be happening to them."

The sister of Operator Maintainer Arthur Batchelor, 20, from Plymouth, said she wanted to see her brother before she would fully celebrate.

Maggie Phillips said: "I am relieved and all the family has been on the phone and lots of people have been in touch asking if it's true.

"Yes, it is true - but I've told everybody I won't be happy until he's on that plane and he is actually stood in front of me."

'Really tough time'

The brother of Marine Mark Banks, 24, speaking at his home near Lowestoft, said he was "absolutely delighted".

"It's been a really, really tough time. We didn't think we'd ever get to the end of the tunnel," he said.

"I'll be having a fair few beers with my little brother Mark when he gets back."

News of the release was also welcomed by family and friends of Royal Marine Danny Masterton, 26, from Murkirk in Ayrshire.

His mother and father, Danny and Christine, were said to be "thrilled and delighted" and Audrey Bone, landlady of his local pub, the Coach House Inn, said everyone "couldn't wait to welcome Danny back home".

In Wales, the mother of Lieutenant Felix Carman, 26, from Gower, said she was still in a state of "shock" at hearing the news of his release.

"We have only just heard the news from the Ministry of Defence and we are both ecstatic," Alison Carman said, standing alongside her husband Paul at the couple's cottage in Port Eynon near Swansea.

"This has come out of the blue," she added.

Party for Nathan Summers
Regulars at the pub where Nathan Summers worked toast his return

"I don't think I will believe it is true until he is standing before us in the flesh and blood and I can hug him."

Celebrations were also taking place in Hayle, Cornwall, the home town of 21-year-old Royal Navy sailor Nathan Summers.

His grandmother, April Rawsthorne, told Sky News: "I am just so happy today, I want to thank everyone - all my friends and family who stuck by us.

"Thank the Lord everything has turned out well for them."

Chris Penfold, landlady at the Cornubia Hotel in the town, where he used to work as a barman, said: "We are just watching it now - we are over the moon.

"We are very pleased - and the celebrations have already started."

The pub put up yellow ribbons around the bar in support of the young sailor and his family.

Family friend John Daniels said: "It is definitely good news, excellent.

"I am glad it has all been settled quickly, but I just hope they do not change their mind."

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