Stoke & Staffordshire

Missing runner John Lawton: Cheshire Search and Rescue to help

John Lawton with his wife Lynda, pic courtesy of trailproject.gr
Image caption John's wife Lynda raised the alarm when he failed to pass the finish line four weeks ago

Search and rescue volunteers are raising money to fund a trip to Greece to help find a missing Cheshire runner.

John Lawton, from Alsager, went missing in an off-road race on 8 April. The official search has been called off.

Organisers say it will cost around £4,000 for 12 people from Cheshire Search and Rescue to fly out to help in the search for the 62-year-old.

Team leader Jo McClure said Mr Lawton's family contacted them last week and it will be their first overseas trip.

Mr Lawton's wife Lynda raised the alarm when he failed to pass the finish line of the Taygetos Challenge 2012, near Kalamata, in western Greece.

She said he was last seen at the fourth check point.

The official search was called off last month and members of Mr Lawton's family and running club, Sandbach Striders, have been out to Greece to help.

His son Steve has told the BBC it is getting harder to believe he will be found.

'Ready to go'

A text message campaign has been launched by the search and rescue team and Mrs McClure said around £700 had been raised so far.

Mrs McClure said: "The family got in touch last week and are willing to fund our accommodation and food so it's just a matter of paying for flights.

"We've never done any overseas work before so we've had to look in to the legal implications and clear it with the Home Office.

"We're packed and ready to go and hope to be able to leave on Friday when there are flights from Manchester airport."

She said many of the volunteers would have to take time out of their day jobs for the trip.

Mrs McClure said: "We've had maps sent over from Greece and I know there are a few tracks and trails he could have got lost on.

"We've been fairly selective in choosing the volunteers that we're sending, many of whom have mountain climbing experience - I just hope we can find him."

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