THE mum of missing Ben Needham has spoken about her wish to see her son ‘safe and well’ as he reaches his 22nd birthday today.
Kerry Grist told The Star she has been preparing for an ‘upsetting day’ as she marks the occasion without her son, who vanished on the Greek island of Kos in 1991, aged 21 months.
Kerry, who lives in Ecclesfield, said her family plan to spend the day together, lighting candles, putting up cards and talking about their memories of Ben.
But she said she has ‘mixed feelings’ about the anniversary, following important developments in the investigation over the last year.
The Greek authorities have restarted the hunt for Ben with support from South Yorkshire Police, while Kerry met Europe Minister David Liddington last month to talk about the case.
She also travelled to Kos in September to meet with the police and the island’s chief prosecutor.
“Obviously it’s upsetting for myself and the family because Ben’s not here to celebrate his birthday with us,” she said.
“But then on the other side of the coin, in the last year things have moved forward so much with the investigation.
“Everything is on a more positive note now. It’s quite difficult to be really unhappy and depressed.”
Kerry said Ben’s 21st birthday was ‘horrendous’.
“He had reached adulthood and we felt like there was a lack of support from the Greek authorities, but from the 21st birthday to the 22nd, it all changed - everything has come in our favour,” she added.
Kerry said the family will talk about Ben as he was 20 years ago.
“He’s an adult now, he’s going to have a life of his own somewhere. He may have his own family and kids. I just want to know that he’s safe and well.
“There would be nothing better than for Ben to come back and live with all of his family but it’s not really realistic at 22 years old.”