Missing Piers Hopson’s family to raise awareness

Piers Hopson

Piers Hopson

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THE family of a missing vulnerable man are taking part in a charity fundraiser to raise awareness of their plight.

Piers Hopson, 37, from Southwater Road, St Leonards, disappeared from his care home exactly two years ago on Wednesday.

His father, Roger, and sister Abigail Gutteridge are running the 10k Miles for Missing People event on Saturday, March 17, in Regent’s Park in London.

They will be donning t-shirts with Piers’s face on them.

Mr Hopson said the family still lived in hope that Piers would return safe and well.

The most recent possible sighting of him was outside Argos in Hastings on November 11 coming out of the shop, carrying an Argos bag.

After that sighting, Piers’s family sent photos to the branch manager who looked at CCTV footage but was unable to confirm it was him.

Mr Hopson said: “There was another possible sighting of Piers in a cafe in Lewes. We went to see the proprietor and she said she was convinced it was him. But you can never guarantee these things, as there was no CCTV.”

Numerous alleged sightings of Piers have been reported over the last two years, from Hastings to Hailsham and from Shoreham to Brighton.

His family have been across Kent, Sussex and further afield distributing leaflets with Piers’s face on them in a desperate attempt to find him.

At one point, each week Piers’s family would choose a village or town in Sussex and spend the day distributing leaflets about him through letter boxes, as well as asking local shops and churches to display posters.

Posters of Piers have been put up in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, as Piers has friends there.

His family even put up a £10,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to Piers’s safe return.

But despite all this, he still has not been heard of since his disappearance.

Piers suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

He was wearing a mushroom-coloured anorak, dark trousers and brown shoes, when he disappeared on January 25, 2010, after telling neighbours he was going for a walk.

His sister, Abigail, has taken the hunt for her brother online with a group on social networking website Facebook called Help Find Piers Hopson, which now has more than 2,000 members.

Piers has gone missing several times in the past but has always turned up.

On one occasion, he spent a Saturday night at a bus stop in Heathfield having missed the last bus and police eventually brought him home.

Mr Hopson said: “We continue to believe Piers is alive. We can’t lose faith in him.

“When we saw the coastguards last April they were very positive he had not been swept out to sea as he would have been washed up ages ago.

“They also looked in every nook and cranny in Hastings Country Park and there was no sign of him. Again if Piers had died from exposure he would have been found ages ago.

“We hope and pray that he is alive. He may be too frightened to contact us because he has been away for so long.

“The only bad news is that we have not heard anything. That’s the big down side and worry. It’s not knowing and you can’t get it out of your head.

“Whenever there is a possible sighting of Piers we go to that town and distribute leaflets.”

He added that the Missing People charity had been very supportive in helping them search for him.

If anyone finds Piers and he is unwell, call 999 to request police and ambulance attendance.

If he is safe and well, they should contact Sussex Police on 101 and ask to be put through to Hastings Police Station.

Piers’s family have set up a dedicated mobile number so people with information can contact them, which is 07552 690607.

If anyone would like to donate to Mr Hopson’s and Mrs Gutteridge’s fundraising cause in March log onto www.justgiving.com/Abigail-Gutteridge.