He­len won’t stop search­ing for Ian

McIvor Times - - VICTORIAN ELECTION 2018 MEET THE CANDIDATES -

HE­LEN Gray will con­tinue to hold out hope for her miss­ing hus­band de­spite no new leads.

‘‘The not know­ing is the worst part,’’ He­len said.

‘‘Most of the time I try not to think of him oth­er­wise I’ll go crazy. I still have to keep try­ing to live my life.’’

It was Septem­ber 11, 2015, when the 66-year-old sheep stud owner drove out the front gate of his Bun­naloo prop­erty never to be seen again.

He­len re­calls the day her hus­band of 21 years dis­ap­peared with ex­tra­or­di­nary clar­ity.

‘‘He got up early on the Fri­day and got dressed in the lounge room,’’ she said.

‘‘He took about $3000 in cash, which we usu­ally don’t have ly­ing around but I’d just sold my buzz box.

‘‘He sneaked out of the house and was on the ve­ran­dah but our son Paul was there talk­ing to his wife on the phone. Paul said he was be­hav­ing very dif­fer­ently and wouldn’t talk to him.

‘‘Ian put his boots on and made his way to the ute and filled it up with fuel. Paul fol­lowed him and asked Ian if he would like him to come and Ian nod­ded no.

‘‘The last Paul saw of Ian was him driv­ing down the drive­way.’’

A week ear­lier, Ian had ad­mit­ted to He­len that he was de­pressed and to make him a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment, which she did.

‘‘The doc­tor or­dered a brain scan and blood tests for the fol­low­ing week and Ian started an­tide­pres­sants on the Thurs­day (the day be­fore he dis­ap­peared),’’ He­len said.

‘‘We were due to go to the Aus­tral­asian Sheep Show the fol­low­ing day so up un­til then, he was pre­par­ing the show sheep.

‘‘He didn’t have the usual en­ergy and started say­ing the show sheep were no good.’’

He­len, who now lives in Heath­cote, raised the alarm shortly af­ter her hus­band’s dis­ap­pear­ance, as he had left with­out at­tend­ing to his live­stock and with­out his wal­let, driver’s li­cence and phone.

Po­lice, fam­ily and friends have spent count­less hours search­ing the re­gion, hop­ing to find the grand­fa­ther of nine.

The fam­ily even chartered an air­craft on four sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions — two from Echuca and two from a prop­erty at Tocumwal — look­ing for any sign of the farmer or his ve­hi­cle.

Po­lice be­lieve a dis­tinc­tive stock crate on the back of Ian’s 2006 Holden Rodeo ute could hold the key to find­ing him. He left in a ve­hi­cle bear­ing NSW plates AG46-AJ.

With no con­firmed sight­ings of Ian, He­len em­barked on a 4000km jour­ney through out­back NSW and Queens­land last year.

In her eye-catch­ing van printed with her hus­band’s miss­ing per­son poster, He­len vis­ited general stores and farms look­ing for in­for­ma­tion.

‘‘Ev­ery­where I stopped, I handed out fly­ers and I talked to stock agents,’’ she said.

Well known to the area, Ian was part of the Poll Dorset Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, which has 700 mem­bers Aus­trali­aw­ide.

At the time, she said: ‘‘The Ian I’m look­ing for is not the Ian that left. He would never leave his fam­ily or his an­i­mals with­out telling them.’’

And while she doesn’t know where he is, He­len does not be­lieve her hus­band is dead.

‘‘A static tar­get would be easy to iden­tify,’’ she said.

‘‘I think he’s on a farm some­where be­ing use­ful. He’s got a roof over his head and is be­ing fed, no ques­tions asked.

‘‘There are plenty of places where this hap­pens.’’

It is this be­lief that keeps He­len’s hopes alive.

‘‘I’ll al­ways have hope,’’ she said.

He­len and her fam­ily are plead­ing for any­one with in­for­ma­tion about Ian’s where­abouts to come for­ward.

‘‘All I want is for him to come home, all the fam­ily loves and misses him.’’

Ian Gray and the ute he left home in.

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