48-year-old Mandy Penney recalls how she and her husband watched the news in horror when Sheffield-born Ben, a 21-month-old toddler, vanished on the Greek Island of Kos 21 years ago.
The couple, who live in Basingstoke, were inspired to write ballad ‘Big Love,’ which they have now donated to his campaign in hopes it will help spread the family’s message.
Mandy told The Star: “We didn’t have children ourselves then, but we were so heartbroken for Kerry and everything she was going through. Now, years later and with our own family, it’s even harder to imagine, but Kerry’s faith has never broken and we wanted to help in any way we could.”
Ben’s mum, Kerry Grist, now 40, has always maintained that her son is still alive. After a South Yorkshire Police search team last year ruled out the theory he may have been accidently buried in a field near to where his family was staying, Kerry renewed her resolve to find Ben, kick-starting a global campaign and a worldwide search,
“That’s the beauty of social media, the way it can spread messages and connect people,” said Mandy.
“My husband and I have never met Kerry, or even spoken to her, but when we heard on Facebook that the campaign was getting a big push. we thought this was the right time to offer up Big Love.”
The song, which is now available on the campaign website, features line such as ‘Will you know my face after all this time?’ and ‘Forever I will search this world for you.”
Kerry told The Star last October: “I have always believed he is out there somewhere.
“It’s difficult because the world is a very big place but with the help of the media and the internet, it’s just a case of keep getting that message out now to someone, to him himself.”
Kerry says she believes her son was abducted to be sold through legal adoption and described the search for him as ‘tiring and heart-breaking.’
“Living like this every day of my life, keeping up the search, if I thought for one minute that Ben wasn’t alive I would give up, wouldn’t I? Something drives me on every day to keep looking.”
Mandy and her husband have since holidayed close to where Ben disappeared and told The Star they often think of him.
Mandy said: “You always find yourself keeping an eye out, looking young people in the face and seraching, thinking ‘if only I could be the one to put that poor family out of their misery’.”
All profits from Big Love will go towards the Find Ben Needham campaign.