The man who found a missing 74-year-old woman safe and well in Melton has been talking about the ‘emotional’ moment when he spotted her in a ditch near the Tesco supermarket.
Dozens of people had searched the streets overnight for Janet Jones, who suffers from dementia, after her family reported she had gone missing from her Thorpe Arnold home on Saturday evening.
The appeal to find Janet had been shared by hundreds of people on social media and police officers, assisted by a helicopter, looked in vain for her across the Melton area.
But on Sunday morning, after she had been missing nearly 12 hours, Marcus Taylor, a member of the Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response team, saw her off Thorpe Road after going out to look for her in his car.
He told the Melton Times: “I went out looking for her early in the morning and I had a feeling I was going to find her.
“I went to look round the back of Tesco and the area where the Post Office sorting office is and I saw Janet, up to her waist in a ditch.
“I drove past slowly at first because I didn’t want to upset her and then I stopped and went up to her and said ‘are you Janet?’
“Her eyes lit up and I told her lots of people had been out looking for her but she was pretty confused.
“It was pretty emotional because I could see she was really worried - it was heart-breaking to see the confusion in her eyes.
“It’s a nice feeling to help someone like this and to see Janet back with her family.
“There is often a lot of negativity about Melton on social media but this incident just led to an outpouring of love and it was nice to be a part of it.”
Janet’s family say they were touched by the community’s response to her going missing and they thank everyone who went out to look for her following the social media appeal.
Clare Young, Janet’s daughter, told the Melton Times: “There were hundreds of people out looking for mum on Saturday night.
“The streets were literally full of people searching for her.
“It was truly heart-warming and made you feel that there are so many kind-hearted people out there.
“It made me cry when I saw one comment from someone that said ‘she’s everyone’s grandmother tonight’.”
Janet had just returned home after a day out with husband, Ellis, on Saturday, when the phone rang. He answered it and Janet left the house while he was distracted.
When she couldn’t be found, the police were alerted and an appeal was sounded by residents using social media.
Family members stayed up all night waiting for news and Clare said they got increasingly worried when it got light and there were no sightings of Janet.
She said: “I saw it on social media that a man had found her and it was such a relief.
“She was a bit disorientated and she doesn’t remember anything about going missing because of her dementia.”
Janet, who worked at Petfoods in the town when she was younger, has three daughters - Paula and Rita as well as Clare - four grandchildren and a great-grandchild. She enjoys attending drop-in sessions at Gloucester House three times a week.
The family took Janet out for a celebratory lunch on Sunday.
Clare added: “It was lovely to be together again with her as a family. We are looking into putting a sensor on the gate now so it will show if she leaves the house again.”
After Janet had been found safe and well, a spokesperson for Leicestershire Police said: “Officers would like to thank the public who helped share our appeal to find Janet.”
**** Leicestershire 4x4 and Rutland Response is a team of volunteers who assist with appeals to help motorists in adverse weather conditions, to search for lost people and to assist with marshalling at public events.
They welcome new members and can be contacted via their website at www.lr4x4response.org.uk which contains full contact details and information about their activities.