Best man vanishes on stag weekend

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An air and sea search was under way last night for a best man who vanished on a stag weekend in Belgium.

Ian Gilbert, 25, from Crowborough, East Sussex, who works in advertising, disappeared during a trip to Ostend that he had helped to organise for the bridegroom, Mark Rosier, 27, and 25 friends.

Last night Mr Gilbert's wife of one year, Charlotte, 34, had become distraught over growing fears that he had fallen into the sea while walking back to his hotel in the early hours of Saturday.

The stag party, all members of Crowborough rugby club, had visited several bars on Friday night to celebrate the wedding, which is to be held in two weeks. At the end of the night, all but two went back to their hotel. According to his friends, Mr Gilbert was among the party when it set off, but vanished during the walk, which included a stretch along the seafront. His disappearance was not noticed until later on Saturday morning.

Sussex Police are working with Belgian detectives in an attempt to trace Mr Gilbert, known as Golly, who has two stepchildren. His friends have put together a £5,000 reward for information.

Paul Gray, a friend from Crowborough who attended the stag weekend, said: "We are all very concerned about Golly's disappearance. It is very unlike him to go off without letting anyone know where he is. His wife ... is distraught."

A spokesman for Sussex Police said there was no evidence Mr Gilbert's disappearance was suspicious.