Tribute to town that rallied round to search for missing John
- Credit: Chris Bishop
A family has paid tribute to the town which rallied round to help search for a missing pensioner.
John Boyd, 77, disappeared from his home in Downham Market on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 4.
A major search operation was launched, which continued until Saturday evening, when it emerged Mr Boyd was safe and well after being found in London, where he was being cared for in hospital.
Volunteers from the Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue group and members of the public were still looking for the missing grandfather as the news broke.
His granddaughter Ruth Walford told a community Facebook group she had been "overwhelmed by the response", adding: "We would like to extend special thanks to those who have braved the conditions and gone out searched for him.
"This truly is a remarkable community."
There has been an outpouring of relief from members of the public, who have been shared their elation on social media.
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One said "what a fantastic community" and thanked all who had given up their time to search for John while another said the news had "made their week."
Tracey Garrod posted: "Fantastic news. We'll done to whoever found him."
Bethanie Eaglen-Smith added: "That's amazing news I'm so glad he is safe! We've all been out looking."
And Aneta Barham said: "Oh wow thanks be to God and all amazing people searching for him."
Police began house-to-house enquiries after Mr Boyd disappeared. Officers searched sheds and outbuildings, while the coastguard was called in to look along the Relief Channel.
Plantation Wood and the Willows Nature Reserve were also searched for any sign of Mr Boyd. Dog teams and drones were also deployed in the hunt.
Mr Boyd's face was everywhere on posters which had been put up along all the main roads in and out of town, to fliers in the windows of town centre shops.
By Saturday afternoon, lowland rescue volunteers wearing red waterproofs could be seen checking ditches and hedgerows along the main A10 east of Downham amid heavy rain.
One report said Mr Boyd, who suffers from dementia remains independent. It said he usually carries a GPS tracking device so his family can monitor his whereabouts, but was without it when he went missing.
Police had earlier released details of two sightings of Mr Boyd. One was near the Iceland frozen food store in Wales Court, near the Clock Tower, at around 1.30pm on Tuesday.
The other was said to have taken place on Maple Road, which leads off the Wimbotsham Road, where Mr Boyd lives, at 7.30pm on the same day.
But announcing he had been found, his granddaughter said: "He was found in London King's Cross at 5pm on Tuesday. Somehow snuck round the CCTV.
"He has been tucked up warm and well looked after in a London Hospital since then."
Police in Norfolk and London have not yet revealed how Mr Body travelled to London, but it would seem almost certain he would have boarded one of the regular Great Northern train services from Downham to King's Cross.
It also remains to be confirmed why it took four days for authorities in London to report that Mr Boyd had, in fact, been found safe and well and was being cared for in hospital, or whether footage from the CCTV cameras at Downham station had been checked.
As the search continued for Mr Boyd, weather conditions deteriorated. Temperatures plunged to -4C on Wednesday night, before the cold snap was followed by Saturday's downpours.
Mr Boyd has now returned to the family bungalow on Wimbotsham Road. A woman who answered the door on Sunday afternoon said: "We've said all that we have to say. We've got nothing to add."