Huge search operation as wildlife volunteer John Harvey missing on Canterbury nature reserve for 12 days
by Gerry Warren
The family of a wildlife volunteer missing for 12 days on a
Canterbury nature reserve is clinging to hope he might still be
The search for 54-year-old John Harvey at the 600-acre Stodmarsh
reserve has now become the biggest operation in Kent for two
It is feared the nature expert (pictured right) might have
encountered trouble while attempting to take photographs in the
A search party of more than 50 police, volunteers and dogs
were joined by Mr Harvey's partner Stephanie Austin, 59, and
28-year-old daughter Claire Harvey on Sunday.
Mrs Austin, who has been with Mr Harvey for 21 years, said: "We
just wanted to go there ourselves and thank everyone who is trying
so hard to find John.
"It's a huge effort and they are marvellous. He's out there
somewhere and we haven't given up hope they will find him."
The police officer leading the investigation said he had no
reason to suspect Mr Harvey had wanted to harm himself.
John Harvey disappeared
at Stodmarsh nature reserve, near Canterbury
DI Jon Holl said: "We are still treating it as a missing
person's inquiry. One theory is that Mr Harvey, who was very keen
on nature and photography, went to the reserve in the evening in
the hope of catching some atmospheric pictures.
"We believe he had his camera equipment with him because it is
not at his home or in his car. But it is possible that he may have
got into trouble in the cold and icy conditions.
"We are doing everything possible to try and find him and are
grateful to the Kent Search and Rescue volunteers who have been
lending their expertise and support.
"We have even had a specialist team from Ireland come over with
sonar equipment, which they have been using to search the river
"But the terrain is very difficult. There are many reed ponds
and the water is more than 6ft deep in places.
"Now we plan to put up the helicopter again to take some
detailed aerial photographs of the reserve to see if they reveal
for missing John Harvey at Stodmarsh nature reserve
Mr Harvey - who lives in Monkton Road, Minster,
Thanet - and works as a Unipart salesman across east Kent, was
reported missing on Sunday, January 20. His Ford Focus car
was found in the reserve car park on Tuesday last week.
Now it emerged he was a highly-regarded volunteer for the
Woodland Trust and was named volunteer of the year by the charity
in 2011 and knew the local nature reserves well.
Mrs Austin said: "John is passionate about nature, and
particularly trees, and regularly gave talks and slideshows.
"He knew the reserve well and the snow at the time would have
changed its atmosphere, which he may well have wanted to
"The woodland has been a lifelong passion of his and even when
we went away on holiday, he would be up at the crack of dawn to go
for a walk and take pictures."
Missing John Harvey
with partner Stephanie Austin
Police have issued a poster in a bid to find out if there have
been any other sightings of Mr Harvey, whose Ford Focus was last
seen heading down Sturry Road towards Sturry at about 9pm on
Saturday, January 19.
He is described as white, stockily-built, and 5ft 8in tall,
with brown receding hair. He was last seen wearing black trousers,
a black jumper, a black coat and black shoes.
Anyone with information that could help in the search
should phone Kent Police on 101.
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