New hope in British family’s agonising search for missing grandfather
Two months on there is suddenly new hope that missing Odelouca resident John Bainbridge could be alive and well and not far from home.
A man answering John’s description was seen at the Alameda Park Café in Praça da República, Portimão, last Wednesday morning.
The sighting has not yet been ‘verified’ but it has given John’s wife Anita and daughter Su renewed faith in a breakthrough after the seemingly endless agony of ‘not knowing’ what has happened to him.
As the Resident reported in January, John left his home in pitch darkness in the early hours of Friday 26th.
He suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and had been in an ‘agitated state’ the evening before.
With the front door locked – specifically to stop him leaving the house while his wife was asleep – John managed to open a window, pull up a chair, and climb out.
He was seen running and walking along local roads at various points that day – all of them relatively close to his home. But since then, and despite several well- organised searches, there has been very little to go on.
Now a family who were having coffee at the Alameda Park café think they might have seen him.
According to Su, the mother “saw a man drinking leftover coffees at a table outside the café and looking into the bins.
“She could not remember how she knew the man’s face until she went to bed that night and realised she recognised it from the posters we put out”.
GNR police who coordinated initial searches have been notified and are apparently particularly concentrating now on Portimão.
Says Su, the woman’s description of the man she hopes is her father was that he “looked clean, clean-shaven but a bit dishevelled”.
John Bainbridge is almost 80, very slim and around 6-foot tall.
A website dedicated to trying to find him and ‘bring him home’ carries all the details on his disappearance (click here) and asks everyone to be aware that John has not yet been found.
Numbers to call with any information are:
Silves GNR 282 440 290 or/ou 112
Anita Bainbridge: 963 512 870
Susan Bainbridge: + 44 7919 090 528.
Police have stressed that if anyone does see John Bainbridge, it is important that they stay with him – or ask someone else to do so if they have to leave – after calling the sighting in, to ensure he can at last get the help he needs.
Meantime, Su says the family got “another bit of news” this week: the torch her father was carrying when he left the house has been found by a man cutting back scrub in Laranjeira (quite some distance up from Odelouca up a country road towards Alferce).
The man did not realise the relevance of the torch, which had John and Anita’s names written on it. But by coincidence his daughter Tatiana works at a restaurant that the Bainbridge couple used to frequent so she immediately got in touch.
As Su explains, “the spot where the torch was found is almost directly opposite the farm in Laranjeira where my dad was seen walking with a farm dog at 8.30am on the day he went missing”.
Amazingly, the torch has weathered all the storms that have battered the countryside since January and “is still working”.
Images: One (left) of John Bainbridge as he looked when he went missing, other (right) computer-generated to show how he might look with a beard