Update: Old Catton man describes Facebook’s role in finding John Reynolds, who went missing from Norfolk and Norwich Hospital
11:21 07 January 2014
An elderly man was back in safe hands today following a large scale search involving police dogs, the police helicopter and members of the public after he went missing from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Appeals were made from across Norwich and Norfolk and relayed across the world by relatives
of John Reynolds, 81, for his
safe return via the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter after he vanished from the hospital.
They included appeals by his daughter, Rebecca Wade, in Santa Monica, and his son, Richard Greeves, who was on holiday in America.
Fortunately, their desperate pleas were seen by Old Catton man Jake Beales, 23, who recognised Mr Reynolds while walking his black labrador, Zooskie, in George Hill. He took the pensioner back to his house for a cup of tea while calling the police to report him as found.
Mr Beales, an operational support guard at Norwich prison, had noticed the man wandering up a friend’s driveway, which raised his suspicions.
However, he said it was only when he looked on his phone and saw the appeal for Mr Reynolds’s return on his Facebook newsfeed and recognised his face that he approached him and asked him if he was Mr Reynolds.
He said: “I take great pride in having helped to find him. I love the fact it had a happy ending. I would not like it if it was my granddad who went missing and nobody did anything about it. In fact, I would be quite angry.”
The former builder left the hospital at 1pm to go for a walk, but had not returned by 3pm, prompting nurses to call the police. Following his discovery, his relieved daughter, Natalie Wade, of Norwich, said: “We are delighted that he has been found safe and well before it goes through the night. It shows how effective social media can be in situations like this. The whole family is delighted.”
Earlier in the evening, she had described how critical it was he was found as soon as possible after he vanished from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital yesterday afternoon.
She said CCTV footage showed him leaving the hospital on to Colney Lane at 1.19pm and heading off on foot, apparently without having caught a bus, adding that her family was particularly concerned for his welfare because he had been taken to hospital after suffering a heart attack on Saturday evening.
As well as looking in the area surrounding the hospital, the search team also considered the possibility he could be trying to get to Norwich, Northgate or Dereham as these were places he was also familiar with, or where he had previously lived.
Mr Reynolds grew up in Gressenhall and attended Neatherd High School in Dereham and worked for RG Carter Builders in Norwich.