Fight goes on to find son missing 22 years

Kerry Needham at home in Strawberry Avenue, Ecclesfield, with a copy of her new book Ben about the search for his missing son Ben Needham.
Kerry Needham at home in Strawberry Avenue, Ecclesfield, with a copy of her new book Ben about the search for his missing son Ben Needham.
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The mum of a missing Sheffield toddler has said the return of three missing American women after more than eight years has given her renewed hope her son will be found.

Kerry Needham’s son Ben vanished on the Greek island of Kos in 1991, aged just 21 months. He has not been seen since.

Undated family handout digital portrait of how missing person Ben Needham may look now. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday October 18, 2012. Police investigating the disappearance of toddler Ben Needham 21 years ago are to start digging up an area close to where he went missing in Greece, it was reported today. Ben vanished on the island of Kos in July 1991 when he was 21 months old, after his mother and grandparents moved there from Sheffield.  See PA story POLICE Needham. Photo credit should read: Tris Rossin/Family Handout/PA Wire 'NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Undated family handout digital portrait of how missing person Ben Needham may look now. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday October 18, 2012. Police investigating the disappearance of toddler Ben Needham 21 years ago are to start digging up an area close to where he went missing in Greece, it was reported today. Ben vanished on the island of Kos in July 1991 when he was 21 months old, after his mother and grandparents moved there from Sheffield. See PA story POLICE Needham. Photo credit should read: Tris Rossin/Family Handout/PA Wire 'NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The three American woman were kidnapped between 2002 and 2004.

They were found last week, after one escaped from the house in Cleveland, Ohio, where they had been held captive.

Kerry, of Strawberry Avenue, Ecclesfield, said it gave her hope Ben, now aged 23, would be found.

The 41-year-old said: “It does give you hope in a way.

“I would hate to think Ben has been living in those circumstances, being captive and not having any kind of life.

“However, the end result is they are home and that’s amazing.”

Kerry has long believed Ben was snatched to sell to a family desperate for a child.

And she issued a heartfelt message to the people who may have Ben.

“If you suspect you have Ben, inform somebody,” she said.

“If these people bought Ben, that’s wrong, that’s illegal, but I will take into consideration that they must have wanted a child so badly they were willing to pay for him.”

She believes Ben could be in a country where blond children do not look out of place, such as Germany, Scandinavia, the United States or Australia.

“It’s the not knowing that hurts the most,” she said.

“To live every day not knowing where your child is, is the most pain any mother can feel.

“I have had to come to terms with the fact Ben is never just going to walk through my door. He’s not going to walk up Strawberry Avenue knock on the door and say ‘hello Mum’.

“The best I can hope for is Ben is found and he gets to know the truth.

“I have every single newspaper cutting from over the last 21 years, just to show I never gave up looking and fighting to find him.

“I want to know he is happy, well and has had a good life. That would have to be enough.

“If he wanted to stay in contact, that would have to be his choice.”

“I just want to tell him the truth, I did want him.

“I want to tell him he is loved and I have done everything in my power to find him.

“We have never given up and I love him.

“I have loved him from the day I found out I was pregnant and, to this day, that love has never faltered and I have never thought about giving up.”

And Kerry has appealed for the people of South Yorkshire to help keep the search for Ben alive.

“Keep sharing Ben’s name as much as possible,” she said. “Just keep Ben’s name out there.”

n For more details and to get involved, visit www.helpfindben.co.uk

n Kerry has now written a book about the search for son. Ben, published by Ebury Press, is out now.