Remote Hebridean island is combed for missing cadet
Father vows to find son who disappeared early on Boxing Day
Thursday 08 January 2009
A search of the wild landscape of a remote island continued yesterday for a young Merchant Navy cadet who went missing early on Boxing Day. The disappearance of Simon MacMillan, the son of a well-connected local organic fish-farmer, has baffled police and the South Uist community.
Hundreds of people gave up Hogmanay celebrations to travel from neighbouring Hebridean islands to scour the tussocked moorland of this ancient and windswept place. This week, divers from the mainland joined the search teams hoping to exploit the unusually favourable weather to probe the deep lochans that dot the area.
The arrival of reinforcements armed with hi-tech equipment demonstrates the growing sense of despair over the wellbeing of the popular local man. The physically fit 21-year-old set out into the night just 20 minutes from his home in Ardmore as he returned from a Christmas Day dance.
Mr MacMillan's parents and brother are clinging to hope but the student seaman has simply disappeared without trace. "This is the mystery; this is the absolute mystery of Simon's disappearance," said his father, Angus, chairman of the Storas Uibhist, which administers the 92,000-acre former sporting estate on behalf of islanders.
"We can only continue looking and asking for any information that somebody may have, regardless of how small and insignificant to them. There is a gem of information out there that will hopefully help to find Simon. We need people to come forward with that."
Islanders and police are furious at rumours claiming that Mr MacMillan, part of a close and well-established Hebridean family, may have been the victim of foul play or a local feud. Church leaders in this Gaelic-speaking predominantly Catholic community have also denied sectarian tensions could be behind the disappearance.
The cadet had returned to his home island only by chance, after his ship was forced to put in for repairs. But in the early hours of Boxing Day he got out of the minibus in which he was travelling to help a friend suffering the effects of too much alcohol to get home safely. Since then there has not been a sighting or piece of evidence concerning him.
"He knew the area really well," said a family friend. "He was not far from home and he spent a lot of time round that area. Some of the reporting has been very distressing for the family and unhelpful in the search."
The family's local priest Father Michael MacDonald has been saying prayers at St Michael's parish church. "This has cast a terrible pall over things. This is a very small community and everybody knows everybody else. We have people of all different denominations and none out looking for the whole of their holiday. The whole community is behind them."
It is almost exactly four years to the day that the same community was searching for a local family of five that lost their lives crossing a flooded causeway during a ferocious storm. Among the searchers that day was Angus MacMillan and he is adamant he will never give up until he finds his son.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...