PEOPLE in Chester and North East Wales are being urged to sign a petition to help secure the release of a man who has been locked up in an Indian jail since last October.
Ray Tindall, 38, an award-winning sausage-maker and a former army sniper, has been held along with six other men in a jail in the Indian city of Chennai after being arrested while part of a crew of a United States-owned anti-pirate patrol vessel.
Mr Tindall, of Newton, Chester, who runs Faralys Fine Produce, has seen his plight recognised at the highest level of world politics, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh having discussed the situation.
Now a friend and business associate of Mr Tindall’s, Huw Rowlands, has expressed his shock at the situation and urged people to sign a national petition to free the men, which has already attracted more than 90,000 signatures.
“I have known Ray for quite a while through farming as he used to supply us with sausages. I was shocked at the news,” said Mr Rowlands, who rears Red Poll cattle from Grange Farm in Mickle Trafford, Chester.
“It was all sorts of feelings when I found out about it. I was upset by it and upsetthat nobody had heard about it. It was a surprise to a lot of people.
“Ray has always struck me as a very hard-working and dedicated man, very loyal and mentally tough. Hopefully the mental toughness he has will have served him well throughout his ordeal.”
Also shocked by Mr Tindall's plight is the owner of the Clive Swan Farm Shop in Treuddyn, near Mold.
Clive Swan said he employed Mr Tindall for a three-month period about five years ago.
He said: “I’m really shocked to hear what’s happened to Ray – it’s really unbelievable.
“Ray’s a hell of a nice guy. He’s very gentlemanly, very respectful towards women, very quiet and extremely interesting.
Mr Tindall, who is married to wife Faith and has a young daughter, Lyra, was arrested with the crew for allegedly carrying weapons illegally and straying into Indian waters without informing the relevant authorities while working for US security firm AdvanFort.
The patrol vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio had been helping to protect commercial shipping vulnerable to hijackers in pirate-infested waters when it was intercepted by a heavily-armed Indian coastguard vessel in the Indian Ocean when heading for Egypt.
Mr Rowlands added: “I, along with many others, have signed a petition calling for Ray’s release and I urge others to do the same.
“We’re all just wishing him well and just want him to be able to return home to his family.”