HUNDRED of yellow balloons were released into the sky today as part of an attempt to raise awareness of missing children around the world.
The event took place at Tesco’s Watling Street branch in Bletchley this afternoon as part of International Missing Children’s Day.
People around the world take part in the event every year to remember the day Etan Patz was abducted in New York on May 25, 1979. The six-year-old has never been found.
Among those attending the event was Milton Keynes resident Ken Spooner, who is the subject of this newspaper’s Justice for Ken campaign.
Mr Spooner’s two boys, Devlan and Caelan, were abducted by their mother Zanetta Nyendwa in 2008 and taken to Zambia. He is still battling to have the boys brought back to England.
He said: “These events are very important. A missing child case can be anything from a child who has run away from home to one who has been taken away from normal family life or to parentally abducted children.
“Even when you know where your children are they are still missing from your life.
“It is about the rights of a child to be with their parents.”
The event was organised by one of the Tesco store’s managers, who cannot be named because of her own ongoing legal case.
She said: “It is a chance to raise awareness across the world. It is an absolute priority that you get these children’s faces out there.
“Not everyone gets the same coverage Maddy McCann does. There are a lot of children who get no mention at all.”
Another parent at the event was Rob Beales, from Whalley Drive in Bletchley, who is currently contesting a court case in Germany for custody of his son.
He said: “Events like these really help people like me.
“This is the first one I have been to and it helps to know you are not alone.
“As a left behind parent I didn’t get much information until I found other parents who had been through the same.”
Mr Beales, who works as a DJ throughout Europe under the name Indigo Sync, had contacted police when his son was taken by an ex-partner nine months ago, but at the time officers said it wasn’t a crime.
He now tours the country talking to police about his situation to reinforce the fact such activity is illegal.
“It feels as if I’m doing something to help parents in the same situation,” he said.
Today also marked the re-launch of the missing children hotline, 116000.