Problems come home for newspaper agony aunt

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The Independent Online
Adelaide Atkins, 12-year-old daughter of Anne, the Daily Telegraph's agony aunt and moral crusader, has sparked an intensive search after going missing.

There was a note on the kitchen table saying: "Back shortly, don't worry." Under Saturday's diary entry the child had written: "I depart today." Apart from her Post Office book, nothing else seems to be missing from her bedroom.

The scenario could have been plucked from her mother's column. But, rather than handing out advice, Mrs Atkins and her husband Shaun, a vicar, have been plunged into their own nightmare.

Police helicopters and dogs searched the Fulham area of London, near the family's home, yesterday looking for Adelaide. She was last seen at 9pm on Saturday when she went to bed.

At first the family were not too concerned but by 2pm they alerted police when Adelaide, described as a reserved girl whose disappearance is totally out of character, failed to turn up for church or lunch.

Adelaide is 5ft tall, slim with hazel eyes and mousey, with hair cut in a page-boy style.

According to Mrs Atkins she "did not have any particular problems. We keep thinking she'll walk in any minute, but the longer it goes on the more anxious we get. She's really not at all worldly wise and doesn't even like going on the Tube on her own.

"We are terribly worried. I deal with these traumas through my column but it's totally different when it happens to you."

Mrs Atkins rose to prominence after causing a stir on Radio 4's Thought for the Day when she condemned the Church of England for allowing a service for homosexuals at Southwark Cathedral.

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