Officers still hopeful in search for missing Essex 82-year-old Gordon Wilson

Volunteers search for missing man Gordon Wilson in Halstead.

Volunteers search for missing man Gordon Wilson in Halstead. - Credit: Su Anderson

The Essex police officer leading the search into missing 82-year-old Gordon Wilson says he is “not going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes” about the chances of finding the Leaden Roding pensioner alive.

Gordon Wilson CCTV sighting bus stop in Chelmsford bus station

Gordon Wilson CCTV sighting bus stop in Chelmsford bus station - Credit: Archant

Acting Chief Superintendent Ewen Wilson was speaking in Halstead today (November 5), where more than 30 volunteers joined specialist search officers in the hunt for Mr Wilson, who suffers from vascular dementia.

A man fitting Mr Wilson’s description is believed to have got off the number 352 bus in Halstead at 1.30pm on Sunday, October 25, and walked in the direction of Butler Road.

Chief Supt Wilson said: “The reality is, as time goes on, that the likelihood of finding Mr Wilson alive is greatly diminished. We remain hopeful, committed and dedicated to the search, but I’m not going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. We are extremely concerned about the welfare of this elderly gentleman, and that’s why we’re working night and day to try to find him.”

It was initially believed that Mr Wilson could have made his way to Glasgow, where he lived for 71 years before moving to Essex 11 and a half years ago with his late wife Sybil to be closer to their three grandchildren.

Gordon Wilson CCTV sighting First bus 352

Gordon Wilson CCTV sighting First bus 352 - Credit: Archant

But Chief Supt Wilson says police are now focusing their efforts in the Halstead area.

He said: “We have got a number of pieces of information, through CCTV and witnesses, that have given us a level of confidence that Mr Wilson was in the Halstead area on Sunday, October 25. We have exhausted our inquiries in Scotland for the time being and the focus is now firmly on Halstead.

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“We have his general direction of travel and the rural area in which he was headed. This is a gentleman who enjoys walking in the countryside and has previously visited Halstead.

“I am concerned he has gone wandering off into a rural area and either got lost, or come into some difficulty, and the objective today is to coordinate an effective search for him.”

The volunteers met at midday in the Butler Road car park and were briefed before heading to farmland and a wooden area off Ravens Avenue to begin the search.

Mr Wilson’s two daughters, Gillian Wilson, 49, and Lesley Rankin, 54, joined the search party along with his granddaughter Mhairi, 17, and the family said they are overwhelmed by the response of the community.

Mrs Rankin said: “We are so grateful that people have given up their spare time to help with the search today. People have travelled from all over the region to come along today and my dad would be delighted if he could see the community spirit at work here.

“He is a very resilient man and we are trying to remain positive, although we understand the severity of the situation.”

Volunteer Charlotte Huggings said: “I felt compelled to help because I just kept thinking ‘What if it was my dad?’ It’s such a sad story with him being a dementia sufferer.

“It must be terrible for the family and I hope that I can help in some way today, for the family’s sake.”

Mr Wilson is described as 5ft 11in-tall and of medium build with grey thinning hair. He wears glasses and was last seen wearing a sports jacket which is either checked or navy. He usually wears a shirt, tie and jumper.

Anyone who sees Mr Wilson is asked to call police on 101 urgently.