MISSING Simon Parkes’ parents have had to live for 33 years not knowing what has happened to their son.
Seven days before he vanished Simon spoke to his mother Margaret, now 73, and his now 77-year-old father Dave.
He was keen to see them, excited to be returning home on HMS Illustrious and checked with them that they had dockside passes for the aircraft carrier’s homecoming in Portsmouth.
When he disappeared a 250-man search was carried out in Gibraltar. His parents waited on every phone call and letter.
But now Margaret admits their expectations have changed – and they had to live their lives.
She told The News: ‘When he disappeared our hopes for maybe 10 years or so were very different.
‘We thought maybe he would be somewhere, and every time we had a phone call we thought maybe this is it.
‘Our hopes have changed but we hope it will be successful but we're realistic and we know it might not be.
‘Over the years things have changed and you do have to get back to real life and survive, you can't survive with that heightened grief and stress, life gets back to normality.
'Every time it gets back to the forefront it gets difficult again.’
The last contact with Simon is etched on her mind. Margaret said: ‘We heard from him on December 5th, the ship was going through the Suez canal and ended up in Gibraltar, so he phoned because he was worried we didn't have the pass to get on to the dockyard and telling us about the time, really excited about it.
'That was the last time we heard from him. We had about 12 letters from him over those five months, and numerous phone calls from the ship.'
He was due to be based at a shore establishment in Yeovilton, near his family home in Bristol.
'It would have been very good for him,' Mrs Parkes said.
Now they hope answers will start to come.
Simon’s dad Dave, 77, added: ‘It would be nice after all these years to know.’