Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dawn and Roger Hopson: The Search for Piers

We stare at the map of Kent and East Sussex. Where shall we go this week? Where shall we distribute our “Missing” leaflets? Where could he possibly be? Piers is so vulnerable (a person with Asperger Syndrome is very naïve) and he must be with someone; he can’t look after himself. Who could he have met on that cold January afternoon in 2010? It must have been someone fairly local, we say to ourselves – who else would be in Hastings on a Monday afternoon in winter? What could they have said to him to persuade him go with them?

When Piers [pictured] first went missing, concerned friends and neighbours helped us to blitz Hastings and nearby towns daily with hastily printed leaflets and posters. As we continue our search, we have our own dedicated number for people to call, in addition to the police and the Missing People helplines. As the weeks and months have gone by our band of helpers has shrunk – not because they are any less concerned for us, but because we feel that we have called upon them enough. We know that we have only to ask, and help will be there. In the meantime it is just the two of us. For us it is a kind of therapy. We feel we are actually doing something to try to get Piers back.

We have a spreadsheet listing when and where we leafleted, with information on the towns or villages, the roads where we delivered leaflets door-to-door, the pubs, cafés, post offices and shops which promised to display a poster. As well as new areas, we are now also revisiting places we leafleted two years ago. “I thought he had been found” people say, or “Still missing? Oh, you poor things, I will pray for you”. We can cope with sympathy now - to start with “no hugs” and “anything but sympathy” we said to our friends.

Sometimes after one of our leafleting days the “Piers phone” as we call it, will ring. Someone thinks they have seen a man who may be Piers. We quickly take down the details – what was he doing, was he alone, how did he walk, and what was he wearing? Sometimes it is obvious to us that it was not Piers, but we investigate, just as if we believe it to have been him. We can’t afford not to. At other times, the person described sounds so like Piers, the room goes quiet, we look at each other – could this be it? In any case, as soon as we can we go to visit the area, clutching leaflets, posters and photographs of Piers.

If it is a café, pub or store we ask about CCTV. Our holy grail is CCTV that was switched on, facing the right way and working correctly. Our friendly contact in Hastings police will always arrange for us to view any images that might be Piers. It is always a traumatic event – we are ushered into a room by a police officer, a laptop will be on the desk. As we sit down we can’t take our eyes off the picture on the screen. We strain to get a clearer view – no, not Piers. But we still wait to see the moving images, just to make absolutely sure.  We thank the police officer for his help and kindness. We go out, get into our car and sit quietly for a few moments. We drive home.

It has been several weeks now, since the ”Piers phone” rang.  Having no new leads, we stare at the map. “Let’s try Robertsbridge” one of us says, “yes, that’s a good idea”.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just to say I've been following your search on Facebook and send you all my love and prayers. I hope that you fine Piers, or at least get some kind of closure one day. Never give up.

    K xx


Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. 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

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