THE COMMUNITY spirit of Pocklington has been hailed by both police and the family of tragic local grandfather David Huitson, whose body was discovered in woodland at the weekend.
A huge search operation was mounted after the 62-year-old went missing on Monday, 13 June, which included scores of police officers and dozens of local volunteers.
However, it ended in tragedy on Friday afternoon when his body was found n Continued on
of Kilnwick Percy, two miles from his Springfield Road home.
David, who enjoyed walking, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for seven years and needed regular medication.
His family released a statement saying: “We would sincerely like to thank the people of the Pocklington area, the volunteer search teams, and all the departments of Humberside Police who have helped us in the search for Dave over the past few days.
“We have been overwhelmed by all of the community support that we have received and are very grateful to the individuals, local businesses and organisations who came to our assistance during this very difficult period.
“We have been deeply moved by all that has been done on our behalf and just want to express how much this has meant to us as a family.”
Pocklington’s leading police officer, Sergeant Pete Rogers said it was the largest inquiry he had been involved with during his 11 years at Pocklington’s George Street station. The search included teams from across Humberside Police’s four divisions, including Hull and North Lincolnshire, the mounted section, the dog section, an underwater search team, the police helicopter, CID officers, the neighbourhood police teams, the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team and around 20 volunteers who stepped forward to help search on Thursday.
In addition, shops and businesses helped distribute posters containing David’s photo, Pocklington School offered accommodation for those helping with the search, motorists called in to offer the loan of their 4x4 vehicles and Pocklington Town Council- who had members joint the search teams- sent out a call to other councils requesting help.
A volunteer rescue team, the Yorkshire Air Rescue, even brought along their aircraft in the hope of spotting the missing man from the air.
Members of the public also helped by ringing in with potential sightings over the four days Mr Huitson was missing.
Sgt Rogers said: “It was a great example of the community spirit in this area and how people do come together when we have a major incident. The local police are extremely grateful for the help given.
“The family were absolutely overwhelmed by the response and it’s wonderful that so many people were happy to give up their free time.
“We are very sad that he was ultimately not found alive and our condolences go out to the Huitson family.”
Local councillors Martin Cooper and Jeff Shepherd were two of those who gave up their time to comb the area. The pair spent their time on Thursday searching the Pocklington Industrial Estate and fields around Barmby Moor.
They said: “It was all down to community spirit, one of our own was missing and we needed to find him. You have to put yourself in the family’s shoes and you hope if it happened to your family then people would respond.
“It was heart-warming to see so many people turn out to search for him.”
Mr Huitson was reported missing last Monday evening after he had left his home to go on a walk at around 2.30pm, promising that he would return by 4pm to take his medication. When he failed to show his worried family contacted the police at around 7pm.
The police helicopter was scrambled on Monday in the hope of tracing him from the air.
Police on the ground began searching the area around his home, checking hundreds of gardens and sheds in the Springfield Road area.
The teams then began to move out to where Mr Huitson was known to enjoy walking, which included the Chapel Hill and Kilnwick Percy area.
A proposed sighting of him then also sent the teams of police and volunteers towards Allerthorpe Woods.
However, it was at Kilnwick Percy that he was eventually found at around 4.30pm on Friday by a farmer and his son who had been looking for a lost calf. The area was cordoned off by police but who have since said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
Mr Huitson was originally from Londesborough but lived most of his life in Pocklington where was well known locally.
He had been married for 40 years and had two grown-up children and an eight- month-old grandchild.