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Lucas Dobson's family leads candle lit vigil in Deal

by Beth Robson and Eleanor Perkins

Hundreds of people have come together to 'light up the coast' for missing Lucas Dobson.

The six-year-old from Deal fell into the River Stour in Sandwich after trying to step from the jetty on to a boat on Saturday.

Three adults jumped in after him but the current was too strong and they were unable to find him.

Scroll down to hear from somebody who went to a candlelight vigil at Deal Pier last night

Lucas Dobson. Picture: Maciee Stanford
Lucas Dobson. Picture: Maciee Stanford

Vigils were arranged across the county at seaside towns and on beaches.

More than 100 people gathered at Dover Seafront to hold a candlelit vigil for the missing youngster.

People formed their candles into Lucas' name and several brought their own small children to the vigil.

One Dovorian, Patricia Berry, explained: "We are here thinking of Lucas' family at this time.We are here to show our support and pray that he is found."

Hundreds of people joined in the vigil in Deal

The organiser of this vigil was Dover woman Leah Baker who has two daughters aged six and eight.

She explained that she did not know the Dobson family but felt moved enough to set up the mass gathering of support.

She said: "We will stay out here for as long as it takes.

Seafront tribute to Lucas made of candles
Seafront tribute to Lucas made of candles

"This is also for people who wanted to join the search but couldn't, for instance because they had children to look after."

She had explained that the authorities had wanted children kept away from the search area because of potential danger.

The vigil at Dover was one of several taking place tonight from 6.30pm, with others held in communities including Folkestone, Aylesham, Deal and Sandwich itself.

Organiser Leah Baker with her children Rose, six, left, and Jasmine, eight
Organiser Leah Baker with her children Rose, six, left, and Jasmine, eight

Lucas had been on a fishing trip, which also included adult family and friends, when he fell into the river.

Hundreds of people have been helping fire fighters, police officers and the coastguard with the search.

A 'Light up the coast for Lucas' event page was on Facebook and it is hoped the #LightuptheCoastforLucas gets trending on Twitter.

Charlotte Hayes, from Sittingbourne, saw the page and got the word out for people to get involved.

In Deal, the tear stained face of his mum, Kirsty Furze, was visible proof of the torment she's been through.

Lucas' mum leading the vigil(15456015)
Lucas' mum leading the vigil(15456015)

But she stayed strong to lead more than a thousand well wishers around Deal Pier.

Dressed in red, they were united in their anguish as the search continues around the banks of the Stour in Sandwich where Lucas fell into the water.

Simon Brady, cousin to distraught Ms Furze, addressed the crowd on the family's behalf, thanking the community for their love and support.

His voice broke repeatedly, but he bit through the wall of emotion to say: "This blue eyed boy you've all seen online has touched everyone's heart.

"You've all been so good. It's been amazing for the family. I can't say thank you enough.

"We just want to get him home now and find him. But for the next few days if you can still keep coming and helping us.

“When you go home tonight, hold your child’s hand a little tighter and maybe Lucas will feel it...” Nathan Dobson

"I appreciate you've all got work, but the more eyes on the water the better... he could pop up at any minute."

Family members led Ms Furze to the sea statue on the the apron of the pier where the first candles were laid.

She was then led away.

Speaking afterwards Maciee Stanford, sister of Ms Furze and Lucas' aunt, said: "It was so overwhelming seeing how many people turned up.

"We feel so supported by the community, we could not have asked for any more.

"It felt like a miracle when we saw how many people turned up."

An emotional Maciee Stanford at the vigil in Deal
An emotional Maciee Stanford at the vigil in Deal

Meanwhile, St Mary’s Art Centre has announced it will not open as a hub for volunteers helping in the search for Lucas tomorrow.

The church in Strand Street, Sandwich, has been a centre point for people, offering refreshments and toilet facilities for two full days.

But organisers say the space is booked for other activities.

Main organiser Ann-Marie Huigen said: “I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers and people who donated their time and food at this sad time.

"It just shows that the community spirit in Sandwich is alive and strong.”

The centre will close at 10pm tonight after the vigil, with leftover food and drink being transported to St Peter’s Church.

Over in Sandwich, flames flickered along the Quayside as a priest led the town's own vigil.

Tears of sadness were shed while as he raised his arms and pleaded with god ‘to show himself’.

But the most heartwrenching sobs came from the boy’s father Nathan Dobson as he stood before the crowd to share a few poignant words.

The vigil in Sandiwch for Lucas (15457169)
The vigil in Sandiwch for Lucas (15457169)

He said: “When you go home tonight, hold your child’s hand a little tighter and maybe Lucas will feel it.”

He continued: “Both Kirsty and I just want to say thank you all so much, from our hearts.”

Mr Dobson was supported by his family and friends.

Starting at St Mary’s Art Centre at 8pm, the crowd - all dressed in Lucas’ favourite colour of red - walked along Strand Street and then onto the Quay.

As silence fell, the sound of a RIB engine passing by on the nearby river echoed across the green - a reminder that search crews are still working tirelessly to find the Warden House Primary pupil.

The gathering was led by priest Peter Ould who commended the public’s efforts.

He said: “Every piece of bread that’s been buttered, every like on Facebook, it’s all helped.”

Read more: All the latest news fromSandwich

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