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A mum's 24 hours of hell is finally over
2:18pm Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
SHE had gone through 24 hours of hell waiting desperately for news of her missing son.
Heather Alexander had barely slept or eaten since 32-year-old Wayne had vanished from her home and she had more reason than most mums – because he hadn’t been outside for 15 years.
Fearing the worst, she repeatedly broke down in tears yesterday after inviting the Daily Echo to her Weston home to help publicise her desperate plea to find him alive.
And then came the call she was longing for and panic turned to sheer joy and relief that Wayne had been found.
The dramatic moment was captured on camera by the Daily Echo as Heather and daughter Tracy were told the news in a phone call from police.
A member of the public had recognised Wayne following a media appeal in the paper, outside a shop in Southampton.
As reported, Wayne had gone missing sometime after 1.30pm on Sunday, but his disappearance sparked immediate concerns with police because of his agoraphobia.
A full-scale search was launched involving volunteers from Hampshire’s search and rescue team and kind-hearted members of the public who searched streets, parks and combed the shoreline close to his Rothschild Close home.
Wayne’s condition meant he was scared to go out and interact with people and struggled to even get in the car with his mum to go for a drive – the last time he did that was 13 years ago.
Heather had earlier described how she was gripped by “a dreadful panic” of why Wayne had suddenly ventured out alone, wearing shorts but without a coat, and feared for what had happened.
She said: “He is frightened of people, it causes him immense stress and that’s why he has stayed indoors for the best part of 15 years.
“My son is my world and I can’t express how vulnerable and in danger he could be.”
But after being reunited with Wayne, a former pupil of St George’s School in Swaythling, at the family home early yesterday afternoon, where his sisters Tracy and Michelle had also anxiously been waiting for news, Heather told of her relief and paid tribute to the people who had tried to find him.
She said: “We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers and past friends who Wayne has not seen for years, but who have got in touch to say they were helping look for him.
“Hampshire police and the rescue services have also been brilliant, they couldn’t have done more and I am so grateful.
“People have travelled from outside Hampshire, one man had gone out in his wheelchair and covered a couple of miles and strangers have been doing what they can to spread the word on Facebook.
“I cannot say a big enough heartfelt thank-you to the angels who gave up their time. It is truly humbling.
“They have brought my son home.”