The family of a pilgrim to Fatima has launched a worldwide appeal after he disappeared at the shrine two weeks ago.
South Londoner John Joyce, 72, went on a 6 day group pilgrimage to Fatima on Monday 11th July. At 9.30 on Friday 14th July, John went with his group a studio about 100 yards from his hotel to watch a video about the children of Fatima. The video finished about 10.45, and the group dispersed.
John was last seen at about 11am walking in front of the Basilica. He did not turn up for lunch at 1pm nor for the other activities planned for the day. In the evening the group organiser asked the hotel to check his room, and, finding all his possessions there (including his wallet, phone, camera, glasses etc), informed the local police that he was missing.
He has not been seen since.
John was wearing navy blue long shorts, a blue/green short sleeved shirt and black sandals (and was captured on the hotel’s CCTV camera. He had no money (except, perhaps, a few euros in his pocket), no sun hat, no phone, no identification, no water. All the evidence seems to suggest that he was planning a stroll around or a visit to a museum before returning to the hotel for lunch at 1pm.
The concerned pilgrimage group circulated flyers with John’s photo to local cafes and shops and went looking for him. The police checked local hospitals, started inquiries and began searching the area. John’s family arrived on Sunday 16th. The hotel staff are helping with translation and liaison and are the main point of contact, Hotel Essence Inn Marianos, 00 351 249 531 572. A Facebook appeal was set up and local Portuguese newspapers have published the story. The British Embassy in Lisbon and the Lucie Blackman Trust are providing advice and support.
John’s family have been overwhelmed by the generous help and support of the hotel staff, the Fatima police, the UK tour group and the local people, who have been unfailingly courteous, kind and concerned, and the many people who have shared the Facebook post and offered and provided support.
They are now urgently appealing to anyone who may have been in Fatima on 14th July and may have seen John on or after 11 am. that day. English speaking people should ring the hotel, Hotel Essence Inn Marianos, 00 351 249 531 572. Portugese speakers should directly ring the Fatima police 00 351 249 530 580.
This appeal also goes out to anyone who knows people living in and around Fatima and Valinhos to alert the local police if they know of any rarely frequented toilets, sheds or outhouses which John may have got stuck in or locked into, and if they see anything unusual on the verges of roads where there is a sheer drop and concealing undergrowth, for example parts of the Avenue Papa Joao XXIII.’
“It is now ten days since John disappeared and chances of his survival are diminishing fast,” his sister Cathie told The Universe.
Readers with any information can also contact our Senior Reporter Nick Benson on 0161 908 5301, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org