Bombings: Hunt for missing Richard

By Danielle NuttallTHE distraught family of an East Anglian man missing in London following the terrorist attacks said last night they were still clinging on to a hope he may be alive.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE distraught family of an East Anglian man missing in London following the terrorist attacks said last night they were still clinging on to a hope he may be alive.

Richard Ellery, from Ipswich, has not made contact with his family since 8.30am on Thursday when he was travelling to London for a staff training day.

The 21-year-old lives with friends in Ipswich and works in the town's Jessops camera shop.

His parents Trevor and Beverley, who live in Southampton, have already telephoned most of the hospitals that admitted people injured in the blasts, but were told their son had not been taken in.

In a desperate attempt to trace him, Mr Ellery went to Liverpool Street with his other son, Tim, yesterday to speak to police and rail staff and show pictures of Richard in the hope of finding someone who recognised him.

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But that trip proved fruitless, despite the best efforts of police who called all hospitals to check that Richard had not been admitted.

Southampton-born and educated, Richard Ellery lived in Bramston Road, Shirley, with his parents up until three months ago when he moved in with his friends to Ipswich.

He got a job with Jessops and was on his way to the Kensington branch on Thursday morning for a day training course.

Shortly before his train arrived at Liverpool Street station, he exchanged text messages with his mother - and that was the last time anyone made contact with him.

Speaking last night, Mr Ellery said: “We have not managed to make contact with Richard since he exchanged text messages with my wife at 8.30am on Thursday.

“He was on a train into Liverpool Street. He was due in at 8.50am and that's about the time that everything kicked off. We have tried calling him, but his mobile just goes straight onto voicemail.”

Torn between whether to stay at home and comfort his wife and a nagging in his heart to go to London to try to find out anything about his son, Mr Ellery finally made the decision to go yesterday lunchtime.

With his vicar, the Rev Mark Prevett, from St Winifred's Church in Salisbury Road, Totton, where Mr Ellery is a reader, they drove to the city.

Tim, 19, made the journey up the M3 and M25 with them to give his father moral support.

Mr Ellery said: “We went up to Liverpool Street Station where we last knew that Richard was and we went into the police station there. They phoned all the hospitals and they were very co-operative.

“We went to speak to one or two rail staff and underground staff. We had taken a couple of pictures in the hope that it may jog somebody's memory.

“I was speaking to my wife a couple of times and I felt I wanted to be there with her, but at the same time I felt I had to go to London and try to do something as well.

“We were in the police station for about two hours. They have got pictures of Richard in the station now.”

But their pleas were hindered as many of the staff working at Liverpool Street on the day of the bombings were not in work yesterday.

Mr Ellery said: “Everybody who was there was very helpful. There were lots of police milling about and on the streets generally. Eventually they said there was nothing else we could do, but come home.”

It was a journey that Richard's close friend and housemate had made in the early hours of yesterday.

“We have spoken to one of his friends that he has been living with and he has been doing all he can. He also drove to London in the early hours and had a picture,” said Mr Ellery.

He described the situation as an “ongoing nightmare” and added: “We just don't believe that this is really happening.

“We were both at work on Thursday when the incidents were spoken about by the media and didn't think twice about it.

“Then, I think, both of us realised at the same time that Richard was in London. Then it started to hit home and we tried making calls to find out about his whereabouts or otherwise. Since then everything's gone on hold.”

Richard's best friend and Ipswich flatmate, Tom Stopanic, said at first he had not been too concerned.

But it was when he saw the timings of the blasts and put them together with what would have been Richard's route from Liverpool Street to his work in Kensington that Mr Stopanic began making calls to establish where he was.

“Straight away I rang the emergency hotline and reported him as being in the area and I rang his work and they said he had not got to Kensington,” he told BBC Look East last night.

David Gunn, manager of Jessops in Ipswich, said his staff were devastated at the lack of news about Richard.

“We send all our staff on a welcome day, which is where he was going on Thursday, in High Street, Kensington,” he added.

“It was organised that he would go down on Thursday and as far as we know he just went. He doesn't drive, so he would have been getting the train to Liverpool Street.

“Our training officer phoned about 10am on Thursday morning to ask have we heard from him because he hadn't turned up at the shop. At that point, there was some activity in London.”

Mr Gunn continued: “They asked if he got in contact tell him to turn around and go home. From that point on was the chain of events. His father phoned and we got in touch with his friend Tom to see if they had heard anything.

“He got on the case and tried to see what was going on. Things progressed and our personnel team was phoning hospitals to try to find out whether he had been checked in anywhere.

“I spoke to his father four or five times on Thursday afternoon to see if he had any news. There was no change at all.”

Mr Gunn said Richard was a popular member of staff, who had been only working at the shop for up to five weeks.

“He's doing perfectly. He's a great guy, a sociable friend. He has been nothing, but great since he started here. He's eager to help and he's cheerful,” he added.

“He wants a career in retail. I'm quite impressed with him so far. Everyone is devastated. They're waiting for the phone to ring for any news.”

Born in Southampton, Richard Ellery attended Wordsworth Infants School, Shakespeare Junior School and Bellemoor secondary school in Shirley before going to Taunton's College. It was only a couple of months ago when he made the move to Ipswich.

His father said: “I think he felt it was time to move out anyway. Two of his friends had decided to move there and invited him.”

Clearly welled up with emotion as he described his eldest son, he continued: “He likes a laugh and to go out for a drink with his buds. His younger brother is into sport, but Richard is more into music.

“It could also be that he has been really badly shocked and is wandering around London somewhere. “We are just hoping, guessing, praying, but it's hitting us all very hard.”

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