Missing Sophie Smith from Gorleston still in people’s hearts and minds one month after her disappearance

The search for missing girl Sophie Smith continues in Gorleston.

The search for missing girl Sophie Smith continues in Gorleston. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

With hundreds of posters dotted around Gorleston and beyond missing Sophie Smith is still very much in the hearts and minds of the seaside community.

Three images of missing Sophie Smith, who has not been seen since she left her Gorleston home in the

Three images of missing Sophie Smith, who has not been seen since she left her Gorleston home in the early hours of Boxing Day morning. Pictures: With permission of @sarah_janee_xo/Norfolk Police - Credit: Archant

Dog walkers purse their lips and nod sadly at the mention of her name and business owners and residents alike discuss the missing 21-year-old, who was last seen in the early hours of Boxing Day heading to the town’s seafront a month ago.

And that is the abiding feeling in Gorleston and further afield – Sophie is always on our minds and close to our hearts.

That sentiment has been shown in posters being put up, large scale volunteer searches and a Find Sophie Smith Facebook page being set up

Among the businesses with a missing poster is estate agents Darby & Liffen of Bells Road, which cuts across Avondale Road where Sophie’s family home is.

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Owen Darby, managing director said: “We are a family business and we are very much part of the community. She is really in the thoughts of people everywhere and we feel so sorry and sad for the whole of Sophie’s family.”

He added as long as there was a “glimmer of hope” the poster would remain in its position.

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Rev Brian Hall, rector at St Andrew’s Church in Gorleston, said the element of the unknown made it difficult to know what to do and extra hard for the family.

He said: “We had a prayer vigil when we first found out and continue to pray at our Sunday services.

“There has been a big public response to the search. It has made a deep impression on the community and for me my prayer is that God would bind up the broken hearted.”

Paddy Lee is coxswain at Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station, which went out six times in the first week Sophie went missing, spending an estimated 15 hours searching.

He said: “It is very sombre when you know you are looking for a person, but we just try to do our very best to find them,

“I think about her whenever we are out on exercises. We are always searching.”

Borough councillors for the town have praised the strong community spirit and how people have not given up hope.

Insp Will Drummond, of Great Yarmouth police, is in close contact with Sophie’s family and said police would act on information supplied concerning Sophie’s whereabouts.

Father’s hope

The father of Sophie Smith has thanked the community and emergency services for their support and extensive searches for his daughter.

As Martin Knowles, 47, and from Gorleston, issued his heartfelt thanks he also said he holds out a glimmer of hope that his daughter will come home.

Mr Knowles said: “The whole community has been phenomenal. When the chips are down everybody pulls together here. It is a very close knit community. I want to thank everyone for their support and what they have done.”

He added as there was “no hard evidence” about what happened to his daughter he still held a “glimmer of hope” for her.

He said his daughter had a heart of gold and was very family orientated and was bubbly and the life and soul of the party.

Sophie’s aunt Rebecca Russell, 41, also wanted to thank everyone for their messages of support and help in searching for her.

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