Missing child: That moment when your blood runs cold | Cheryl Gibbs

Matt and I took Harley to The Heath on Wednesday afternoon, aka ‘Petersfield Pond’.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:42 pm
There was drama at the heath pond, Petersfield. Picture: Getty
There was drama at the heath pond, Petersfield. Picture: Getty

It was later than usual, about 4pm, but it was such a warm afternoon that we decided to go for a little wander.

We bumped into some of our NCT (National Childbirth Trust) mummy and daddy friends.

This was unexpected but nice and the two babies played for a little bit, before getting bored with each other and moving on to something else.

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It was a nice relaxed afternoon, just what I needed after a manic day at home working.

All of a sudden we heard this guy shouting – he was all suited and booted with a coffee in his hand and looked like he had just got off the train from London.

My first reaction was that maybe he was shouting something to do with the football – it was the day after England beat Germany (get in!) and I didn’t think anything of it, but a minute later I watched him running around the heath and people started stopping and talking among themselves.

It was then I realised he was shouting a name – a girl’s name. His daughter’s.

So I asked someone in the park what was going on as his shouts became more frantic and I watched as he dropped his coffee straight out of his hand and was panicky and now screaming.

Then it dawned on me, he couldn’t find his daughter. I heard him tell someone he hadn’t seen her for about five minutes.

It was like a scene out of a film – everyone suddenly leapt into action; the guy next to me was on the phone to 999 reporting a ‘missing child’; a mother left her children with her partner as she ran to the café to see if she was in there; Matt left me with Harley to help with the search.

I just felt sick and my blood ran cold. Even writing this I’ve got awful shivers; it’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

Luckily someone had the sense to check the women’s toilets and that’s where she was.

The frantic but hugely relieved dad said to Matt: ‘She’s 11 years old, but she’s my baby you know.’

That just about summed it up perfectly.

These emergency transfers sound like a brilliant idea

The Petersfield drama reminds me of an incident when I was young and a family trip to West Wittering.

Mum and dad told us to always look at the groynes when we were in the sea to ensure we were on the correct part of the beach.

At lunchtime we were told a girl was missing and my dad, with hundreds of others, joined the search. Later a helicopter did too. Again it felt like time stood still. I remember feeling sick with worry. They found her – she had drifted in the sea and she couldn’t find her parents.

I found out this week you can buy temporary tattoo transfers to put on your child which has a number to call if they go missing – I’ll be buying a load, that’s for sure.

Forget rest of Euros, football has already returned home

We, like the rest of the country, watched with anticipation and excitement as England smashed Germany – what a feeling!

Matt jumped around screaming and I had to excuse his language to Harley and hope she’s too young to understand. There was little I could do – he was in the zone so I had to leave him be.

What a moment it was when after four minutes of extra time, the ref blew and the crowds roared… 55 long years and now, whatever happens tomorrow, England beat Germany.

Well done England and Gareth Southgate for bringing it home – we may not have won the Euros (yet) but we won when it really mattered.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron. You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 27p a day.