Family's memorial to missing son
By Annie DavidsonTHE parents of a chef who went missing while paragliding in India are to create a lasting memorial to their lost son.Joel Kitchen, from Brightlingsea, was aged 25 when he disappeared in the foothills of the Himalayas in April 2002.
By Annie Davidson
THE parents of a chef who went missing while paragliding in India are to create a lasting memorial to their lost son.
Joel Kitchen, from Brightlingsea, was aged 25 when he disappeared in the foothills of the Himalayas in April 2002.
He was travelling round the world when he took up the sport and was believed to have been blown off course by bad weather conditions after taking off in the Himachal Pradesh area.
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His parents, Bill and Angie, flew to India and had to pay for a helicopter to search for Joel in the remote area where he disappeared, but no trace of him has been found.
Now Mr and Mrs Kitchen, of Dean Street, Brightlingsea, are writing to everyone who donated money to help fund the search.
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They are sending cheques for people to pay in by April 7 - the date of Joel's disappearance - or the money will be used for two projects that the family are working on in his name.
Mrs Kitchen said people had been “incredibly generous” and about £15,000 had been given to the family during the expensive search for Joel.
But she added they felt the money should be returned as the expected £18,000 search bill from the Indian Air Force had never arrived.
However, the couple are working on plans for an adventure recreation area at Brightlingsea Junior School, where Mr Kitchen teaches and Joel was once a pupil.
They are also going to send donations to Arogya Agam, a charity that supports health workers in the community in southern India.
Any cheques that are not paid in by April 7, or donations of less than £25, will go towards the projects.
Mrs Kitchen said: “We feel the adventure area reflects what Joel loved doing in life. Joel knew somebody who ran a café at the Womad festival in Reading and the proceeds were sent to Arogya Agam.
“Joel cooked for them for a couple of years, so it seemed right to raise a bit of money for them.”
Mrs Kitchen added it had been hard to begin the process of sending the letters out and although a memorial service may be held for Joel in the future, they did not feel ready to have one yet.
“We both go very up and down and try to take one thing at a time. You don't come to terms with something like this, you just try to look at the positive side, which is that we had 25 years with him and some people don't even get that,” she said.
Mr Kitchen is also working on a bench that will be placed along a walk in Brightlingsea close to the river where the railway line used to be.
He has carved Joel Kitchen - At Peace In The Himalayas on it and is also adding two doves, with one background of Brightlingsea and one of the Himalayas.
It is hoped work on the playground will begin during the summer holidays.