A distraught mother is raising money to find her son who went missing in Nepal three months ago.
Margaret Finlay, who works at Luton Borough Council, first flew out to look for Matthew Allpress, 23, when he disappeared in November.
Since then there have been four ten-day searches and now Margaret and her colleagues are raising money for the next search in the spring.
Former Denbigh High School student Margaret said: “There has been no sign of anything, no backpack, nothing. So I won’t give up hope.
“Matt was an experienced traveller and his girlfriend said he had poured over a very detailed map of the area and done all his background research before he set off. He wouldn’t have gone into this lightly.”
Matthew, an Australian citizen, started a trek on November 3 in the Annapurna region of Nepal and was officially declared missing by the Australian Government on November 17 after failing to board his flight back to Australia.
His mother said he is very good at communicating so the search team knew exactly where he had started his trek.
Unfortunately despite extensive land and helicopter searches there is still no sign of him.
Margaret said: “My other son, Michael, 21, landed in Nepal last week. He will be doing searching and trekking but I think it’s best to leave it to the professionals. I don’t want him out there too.”
Margaret has since returned to work and her colleagues are organising various events to raise funds.
The council’s head of prevention and early intervention Jo Fisher will be running a half marathon at the end of February wearing a t-shirt with Matt’s face on to fundraise for the appeal.
Mother-of-three Jo said: “The whole service want to be behind and supporting Margaret in the search for her son. Margaret has hope and determination to find Matt and we just want to let her know that we completely are there for her and doing anything we can to support her. I thought doing a run wearing a t-shirt with Matt’s face on it might inspire people to make a small donation to Matt’s website.”
The Stronger Families team, which Margaret is a data analyst for, are holding a Valentine’s Dance on February 14 at High Town Club in Oxen Road, with all proceeds going to the FindMatt Foundation.
Margaret said: “LBC have been amazing in supporting me through this. They are all very understanding about my fragile state of mind and have been great.”
So far, Margaret has spent £35,000 organising efforts, including helicopter flights, searches by specialist ‘high altitude sherpas’ and Search and Rescue dog teams.
Graphic designer Matt’s friends in Australia have already raised £30,000 which helped fund a search party in January.
They also run the website http://findmatt.com.au/
Margaret said: “The fundraising has given me a focus. Christmas was awful. Matt’s birthday is on June 15 and we are planning another search in the Spring but I don’t know if I can wait that long.
“Matt is great. He has trekked all through Turkey down to India, spent a year working in Berlin and Paris and in 2012 he skateboarded 720km in New Zealand - just because he could. He is full of fun, he loves doing unusual things and he is very studious. He loved life and I hope he still is loving life.”
Visit the Find Matt website http://findmatt.com.au/ to donate or follow @find_matt on Twitter.
Call the High Town Club on 01582 726859 for tickets to the Valentine’s Dance.