Chef still missing one year on

By James HoreTHE family of a paraglider who went missing in India have spoken about how his loss has affected their lives one year on from his disappearance.

By James Hore

THE family of a paraglider who went missing in India have spoken about how his loss has affected their lives one year on from his disappearance.

Joel Kitchen, from Brightlingsea, was last seen a year ago to the day as he set off to fly from Eir in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas.

His family flew out to help in the hunt for the 25-year-old, but despite an extensive search in treacherous conditions, Joel was never found and they had to take the agonising decision to call it off because people were putting themselves in great danger.

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Joel's family and friends will be gathering today at his home in Deane Street to celebrate the life of the man who loved to travel the world.

His father, Bill, who works as a teacher at Brightlingsea Junior School, said they had been able to take some comfort in knowing their son had been doing what he loved on the day he had gone missing.

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"The police out there have never closed their books on the incident because they felt convinced they would receive some information, but that did not transpire," he added.

"It does leave us with a big question mark – 99% of you tells you there is little chance of him showing up, but we are still trying to adjust to the fact that he is not coming back."

Joel's family decided to put all decisions off for a year and a day to see if any information came to light about his disappearance and are now thinking about doing something in his memory.

Mr Kitchen and his wife Angie – who have two other children, Christopher and Ben – are planning an adventure climbing experience for children in Brightlingsea as a way of bringing a positive outcome from their son's disappearance.

He found it hard to believe a year has passed since Joel went missing when the family were told they faced footing an £18,000 bill for the cost of searching for him.

"I can't believe the clock has turned round so fast – we are going about our normal daily lives with the support of friends and the community, but it still hurts deep inside," he said.

Mr Kitchen added he still hoped some shreds of evidence would turn up, perhaps indicating what had happened to his son – "some sort of definite knowledge that would tie it up for me," he said.

Joel and his girlfriend, Lucie Wallace, had taken great pleasure in travelling the world and the welcome they had received from people on their journeys, added Mr Kitchen.

The couple had started their adventure by going across Europe on a tandem. Joel also visited Africa, Israel and Turkey before arriving in India for two months prior to his disappearance.

Mr and Mrs Kitchen, who plan to travel to the places where their son visited on his journeys, said they wanted to thank the people in their community for the support they had shown over the past year.

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