‘I still think of my Steven every day.’ Mother speaks about her son who has been missing for 44 years
The mother of a Norfolk boy who went missing 44 years ago and has never been found has spoken of her heartache and desire to discover the truth about what happened to him.
Jean Newing said she still thinks every day of her freckle faced 'mischievous' boy, Steven Newing, who disappeared from his Fakenham home on September 2, 1969, aged 11.
She also spoke of her immense pride at the good work being done in the town in his name.
Speaking exclusively to the EDP at a celebration event to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Steven Newing House in Fakenham, which houses and supports vulnerable 16 to 25-year-olds, Mrs Newing, 77, said: 'As you get older you have more time to think about things and I still think of Steven every day.
'I think of his cheeky little freckled face and the way he always used to get up to mischief, whether it was falling off his bike, falling out of a tree or having his teeth knocked out by a football.
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'I still very much want to know what happened to him.
'At my age I don't know that I'll ever know the truth but I feel it's important for me to find out.
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'It could take just one piece of information to come out to find out what happened.'
Mrs Newing still clearly remembers the day her son went missing from his home on Lee Warner Avenue.
She said: 'It was the school holidays and he was playing with a friend. He said he was going to his friend's house for dinner.
'The last thing I said to him was 'don't be any later than 8pm.' When he wasn't back by 9pm I called the police and have never seen him since.
'There have been reports of sightings and theories about what happened to him but never anything concrete.'
Detectives working the original case looked into the possibility that Steven may have been abducted but were never able to prove it.
There were also theories that he may have fallen down a well or was hit by a car and taken away by the driver.
Shortly after he went missing members of the public said they had spotted Steven in Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, then later in Kessingland, Suffolk but were never able to prove it.
The family home was searched twice to ensure the boy was not hiding there and officers said they were confident his family was not involved in the disappearance.
The constant speculation and reminders about what happened became too much for Mrs Newing and she left Fakenham in 1980.
The case was reviewed in 2009, the 40th anniversary of Steven's disappearance, and police re-launched an appeal for information in the media.
But no significant new leads came from it.
Mrs Newing now lives in Bracknell, Berkshire and came to Fakenham on Wednesday for the 10th anniversary of the opening of Steven Newing House, on Barons Close.
She said: 'Every day people were saying this happened or that happened and the other kids were getting it at school as well.
'It became unbearable and we had to get away.'
Mrs Newing who has three other, now grown up children, said: 'Having other children and making sure nothing ever happened to them is what kept me going.'
Steven Newing House was opened in Steven's name in 2003.
It is managed by The Benjamin Foundation in partnership with Flagship Housing Association and North Norfolk District Council.
It provides emergency accommodation and lifestyle support to help people achieve their full potential and a greater level of independence.
It offers 11 en-suite, bedsit-type units with a shared lounge, cooking and laundry facilities.
There are also four semi-independent 'move-on' flats on the site - supported North Norfolk Resettlement Scheme.
The project works closely with North Norfolk District Council and Peddars Way Housing Association to ensure that all residents, where appropriate, move on to secure and affordable accommodation.
It is funded by the Supporting People government grant, money from residents' benefits and a local support group.
It is estimated that Steven Newing House has housed almost 200 residents since it opened.
Richard Draper MBE, chief executive of The Benjamin Foundation, said: 'Using Steven Newing's name seemed really appropriate when we opened this premises in Fakenham and the service it provides is just as crucial now as it was then.
'Steven Newing House is something the local community should feel proud of.
'It is a crucial service for young people who, for whatever reason, have found themselves homeless.
'It is not just putting a roof over people's heads but is giving them the support they need to get their lives on track - there have been so many success stories that have come from here.
'There are benefits as well to society as a whole.
'While this project does receive some government funding the money it saves in terms of preventing people from ending up in mental health care or the criminal justice system is huge.'
Mrs Newing said: 'I'm incredibly proud of what is being done here.
'They are doing something really positive to help young people in Steven's memory.
'Steven was never given a resting place, so being here, at Steven Newing House, is where I feel closest to him.'