Praise for coastal communities in search efforts for missing student Sophie Smith

The search for missing Sophie Smith, on the beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: IAN BURT

The search for missing Sophie Smith, on the beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: IAN BURT - Credit: Archant

Ongoing attempts to locate missing student Sophie Smith have drawn widespread praise as coastal communities refuse to lay down in their search efforts.

Sophie Smith, 21, who has been missing since Boxing Day morning from Gorleston. Picture: With permis

Sophie Smith, 21, who has been missing since Boxing Day morning from Gorleston. Picture: With permission of @sarah_janee_xo - Credit: Archant

The 21-year-old disappeared from her home on Avondale Road in Gorleston at 3am on Boxing Day morning, without a mobile phone and wearing only a vest and shorts.

CCTV footage captured her heading towards the seafront a short time later, but there have been no other confirmed sightings since then.

Sophie’s disappearance has prompted a remarkable reaction from local people and hundreds have been joining the emergency services to help scour the coastline in the hope that she will be found.

The poster for the missing 21-year-old, Sophie Smith in a shop window in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE

The poster for the missing 21-year-old, Sophie Smith in a shop window in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Read more: New Year’s Day Dip postponed due ongoing search for Sophie Smith

Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, expressed how heartening it has been to see so many people rally around Sophie’s family.


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He said: “It has been another amazing example of how communities come together at difficult times, and has shown the spirit we have in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding areas.

“It is hard to imagine the emotions that Sophie’s family are going through and hopefully the support that we are seeing locally can help them.

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“The situation is tragic and all my thoughts are with the family at what must be an unbelievably difficult time.”

Saturday saw coastal communities come together to carry out two additional searches, both of which were organised by the Find Sophie Smith Facebook group.

At midday, a group gathered at the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth before spreading themselves out as widely as possible from the top of the beach down to the shoreline. The group trekked 7 miles north through Caister-on-Sea, California, Scratby and Hemsby all the way to Winterton-on-Sea, scanning the sand and dunes extensively along the way.

Whilst the first search was still going on, a second took place at Hopton Holiday Village from 2.30pm.

Meanwhile, in a further gesture of goodwill, a reward of £5,000 has been offered by Jason Smith from Gorleston-based RJS Builders for information which leads to Sophie’s safe return.

Read more: Cash reward offered in search for Sophie Smith

The lighting of candles to show support for the search for Sophie is also being encouraged.

Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Sophie Smith should contact Norfolk Police immediately on 101.

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