In a break from the usual ARTWORKS news, this blog update is to support Valerie Armstrong in the search for her beloved husband David Wood, who went missing while walking in France in August 2016. Valerie has agreed to share these family photographs from happier times in the hope that they will help her find her husband.
This family statement is from their son Danny Armstrong-Wood and it provides the context of David’s disappearance:
It is with much pain that we have to report the disappearance of our beloved father, husband and best friend, David Wood. He was last seen on a walk to Clans from the mountain village of Marie in the Tinee Valley area of the Alpes Maritimes on Tuesday 2nd August at around 1:30-1:45. The walk (about 6k) was relatively straightforward and a well-known route from the Village. Although there were some sheer drops, rocky patches and a number of rivers these areas have been searched extensively by many people (family, police, mountain rescue teams, a highly equipped helicopter and pretty well all the local villagers who were able). It has not rained in the area for over a week so the rivers are not strong enough to carry anyone along, and the search helicopter would have seen anything in the most dangerous spots.
Dave is 61 years old, with a full head of curly white hair, he was walking with two blue walking poles, wearing sturdy walking boots, a bright orange cap, beige linen trousers, sun glasses, and a brown t-shirt with a Colombian motif. He is strong, with a reasonable level of fitness but was recently diagnosed with slightly raised blood pressure (which his walking exercise was helping to bring down!). He was expected back at his house in Marie at around 2:30 for a business conference, and he had stopped answering his phone from around 2:15.
The main facts are: that it is one of the hottest times in the day to do this walk. We knew he was getting tired, because our mum/Val was very concerned and had rung him twice. The second time he admitted to tiredness. After these two calls he phone continued to ring, but he did not answer. If he fell on the path or just off the path, he would have been found. The forest nearby is very dense and although he is an inquisitive person he would not put himself in any unnecessary risk, so walking deep into it seems highly unlikely, especially as he knew that he had to be back home soon, these areas have also been heavily searched. His absence is completely out of character and he is in a very happy place in his life, in particular during these summers in France. It is now the fifth night, our worry has turned to confusion, fear, sadness, and back to worry again, nothing is making any sense.
Our concerns are that the sun might have effected him, or that he fell over then woke with concussion maybe he walked down to the mountains in a confused state, If this is the case it is very possible that he made it to the road below, was he picked up by someone? Or and it destroys us just thinking about it, is he still out there? If so where is he? and why is he so far from the path?
Please, if by sharing this post you think can help us we would be very grateful, on the off chance you know anybody in France (South), have any advice, ideas or connections, we need all the help we can get at this painful time. Please call gendarmerie in saint-sauveur on +33493020007 if you have any information that might be useful.
Valerie Armstrong made an appearance on BBC Look East News on Monday 3 October 2016; watch the programme from 10 minutes in. Valerie was also on BBC Radio Suffolk.
Valerie adds this message in an update on the Facebook page for David Wood:
It is now more than two months since David disappeared whilst taking a relatively straightforward walk between the mountain villages of Marie and Clans in the Tinee Valley of the Alpes Maritimes in Southern France. The mountain has been searched so completely it is hard to believe that he is there. If not – where is he? What happened to him to make him vanish so completely? No sign of his orange cap, walking poles, water bottle, sunglasses or his French and English mobile phones has ever been found. We, his family are in despair, but we refuse to give up.
Yesterday I spoke to a kind contact at the Lucy Blackburn Trust. He told me not to give up hope, as people do turn up – sometimes months, years, after a disappearance having lost their memory due to a medical condition. The sun and the heat can do untold damage. So we continue to hope and from time to time we will continue to post messages on Facebook and Twitter and ask you kind people to like and to share as much as possible. Our wonderful David is out there somewhere. We must find him. Have any of you out there seen this man? I am enclosing some more photographs Dave with family – Dave playing the fool – Dave just being himself.
Thank you all, Val x