Thursday, 6 October 2011

Julie Etchingham: Little Boy Lost

Think of all that’s happened in the past twenty years. The death of Diana, 9/11, the rise and fall of New Labour, Iraq, Afghanistan,  the explosion of the internet, the financial boom and the economic bust. As all this has ebbed and flowed through our lives, one family has endured the seemingly never-ending torment of a child who went missing when he was just a toddler.

Close your eyes and you will probably remember his face. Ben Needham. The archetypal blond, blue-eyed boy was just 21 months old when he vanished, without trace, on the Greek island of Kos. There was no instant media to report it, no mobile phone network to set alight with it – and the police didn’t seem to care.

But Ben’s mother Kerry has never given up on what has become one of the longest-running missing persons cases in British history. And her patience and drive to find out about her son may be about to pay off. The investigation is being re-opened.

In a special ‘Tonight’ programme to be aired tonight, we follow Kerry as she makes an emotional return to Greece, where astonishingly, sightings are still being reported – even though Ben is now a grown man. She suffers the agony of DNA tests raising then dashing hopes, but also meets a doctor who is convinced he saw Ben at his hospital around 9 months after he disappeared.

Finally and dramatically – Kerry also meets the Public Prosecutor on Kos who tells her she is now prepared to look at the case afresh, harnessing all the new technology available. A charity has made posters of a digital image of Ben as he may look now. They are going up all over Greece – in the hope Ben may even recognise himself.

Like the family of Madeleine McCann who cling so desperately to the prospect of even the smallest breakthrough, Kerry’s steadfast hope is remarkable. The Foreign Office is backing her efforts and the head of the charity Missing People Martin Houghton says he’s delighted the Ben Needham case is to be given fresh momentum -  and says it’s the power of such hope which can drive people forward during their darkest moments.

By Julie Etchingham
Presenter, Tonight

Watch Kerry’s remarkable journey:  ‘Little Boy Lost –  the Search for Ben Needham’ - Thursday evening, 6 October, 7.30pm on ITV1. You can also help Kerry and all those searching for missing children by visiting www.missingpeople.org.uk/benneedham.

1 comment:

  1. I was only 3 or 4 when Ben went missing but growing up I remember seeing his beautiful little face in the media on occasions. I have a lot of admiration for Kerry and her parents who continue to inspire others with their search - it's the natural and right thing to do.

    The police incompetence echoes a lot of other cases when it comes to Missing People. I am disgusted that the police didn't follow up the Doctor's lead and surely there must be some kind of prosecution for that? It's hard to hold such an institution to account but it can be done, especially in the case of something so serious.

    ReplyDelete

Around 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit www.missingpeople.org.uk.

Call or txt the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.