FEATURE: The '˜amazing' volunteers who came together to find Melanie
Volunteers are still on standby as they await formal identification of a body found in the search for Melanie Wilson.
And as they ‘still have hope’ they’ll get the call to say it’s not her, news emerges of just how close volunteers came to where the body was found. The shocking discovery was made when a prospective homeowner viewed an empty property in Stoney Street, Sutton, and found the body in the back garden.
But after police asked volunteer groups to hold off on any further searching, members of Where There’s Hope are on standby at the Rose and Crown pub in Stoneyford Road. Melanie went missing on October 19 and the group got involved on Monday (October 31) as Melanie’s disappearance approached a fortnight. The team had a rocky start to begin with - only 20 people came to help on the first day - but thanks largely to the word being spread on social media, a coordinated effort got into full swing on Tuesday, November 1.
BREAKING: Police divers searching lake for missing Mansfield woman Main organiser, Kirsty Brown has offered her huge thanks to all those who have helped out. She said: “We were shocked with how many people came down. We’ve had thousands of shares and hundreds of people coming to hold.
“It shows what a great community we’ve got - everybody came together. Everybody has been absolutely amazing and we’re really amazed by everything they’ve done. “We were concerned that the search wasn’t going to get moving, but it’s been a huge community effort. loads of local companies have been printing off leaflets.” Between 250 and 300 people, from Ashfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, and even as far affield as Derby and Sheffield, have been through the Rose and Crown. The search’s de facto headquarters has been a ‘hive’ of activity for the past four days, as organisers maintain maps of all the areas searches have been conducted, and where volunteers have stopped to rest and update leaders on their efforts.
Landlord Martin Howard said: “It was a relief. There was a video by the Daily Dose Lads (a trio of Sutton-based Facebook personalities) which got 100,000 views and thanks to that it got the search really up and going.”
“People have been coming in saying I’ve got half an hour, where do you want me,” others have dropped by with posters, leaflets. “Even those with pushchairs and children have been handing leaflets out, people who couldn’t help search have dropped by with teas and coffees to give out.
Looking at the maps, the area they’ve covered is huge - with swathes of countryside around Sutton and north Mansfield, residential streets across Sutton, parkland.
These are the areas we’ve really covered, says Martin. “All the shaded in areas. “We actually walked down that road where they found the body, and obviously didn’t want to go into gardens,” added Kirsty. In a cruel twist of fate, it turns out the team had actually searched Stoney Street the day before police were called. Jeanette Bean from Sutton was with the group who search the area, yards form Sutton lawn and central street. She said: “My dog was taking me that way and the search team stopped me. We were told not to go into properties, so we said we’d come back. “Dogs automatically sniff things out. They get a sense. “ But did Jeanette get a feeling, herself, that she was so close? “You get a feeling everywhere you go,” she said. Kirsty added: “Everywhere you go your eyes play tricks on you. “You always think something’s there and every blonde haired person that’s walking you think it’s her and then you’re disappointed when you see their face. “When you drive around in the dark you think you see someone, but there’s no one there.”
Sicne being called off by police, the team are still on standby with organisers waiting to here the news.
“We’re still sat in here praying we’ll get a call saying it’s not her, and we’ll be back out there,” said Jeanette. “We can’t call it off until we know.” Volunteer Wendy Brett added: “This is why we’re still meeting up. We’re still hopeful.”
They say the next step would have been to Google empty promperties in the area and to search those one by one. Police are yet to formally name the body but we understand Melanie’s family have been informed of the find and were asked to identify whether it’s Melanie.
There is not said to be any suspicious cirumstances to the death. The pub says the next step for them is to raise funds for the group who coordinated such a huge search effort around the area.
Pub landlord Martin added: “We need something - if anyone goes missing again we need something in place.