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Hunt for Ballymena man Jimmy Hayes missing since 1986 will go on, pledges little sister

By Allan Preston

The sister of a Ballymena man who went missing almost 31 years ago says she will never give up hope of finding him.

Robert James Hayes - known as Jimmy - was last seen by his family in 1986 when he was 20.

That year he had walked 18-year-old Sharon down the aisle on her wedding day.

This week Sharon Gregg, who moved to Canada 18 years ago, vowed that she would never stop searching for him.

"Where are you Robert James Hayes," she asked on social media.

"Almost 31 years apart but forever in my heart."

Jimmy disappeared in June 1986.

The family searched his room for a passport but couldn't find one.

"We got a letter from him that year and a Christmas card. He said not to worry about him as he would be all right, and that was it," explained Sharon in an earlier appeal on an Irish missing persons website.

She said she believed he had gone on to live in Scotland, England, Spain and Sweden, but his current location remained a mystery.

On Monday Sharon said she had contacted the charity Families Across Borders for advice.

But she admitted: "It sounds like I have a great ordeal to go through to find my brother, another door that leads to nowhere, but I will plod onwards in my 30-year search."

On February 12 she posted: "Where are you Jimmy Hayes?

"I miss you so much, I want to connect with you, it's been almost 31 years and too long to go without a brother and the only immediate family I have left.

"Please someone help me find my brother.

"Someone must know something."

Last month there was a glimmer of hope that her brother could still be found alive and well.

Sharon was able to contact a man in Sweden who had been good friends with her brother, but had since lost touch.

"The biggest thing that moved me: I asked him to tell me about my brother, he said he was the best friend he ever had and that he was loved by many," she said.

"It just made me yearn for him even more, and I told him thank you for that, as I was grasping to hold onto hope. Thank you Mike for giving me hope again."

Sharon also thanked the "kind, compassionate people from Belfast" for sharing the appeal for her brother.

"I had such an incredible response from you Belfast people, it will be 31 years this summer since he left home and it sounds like he has travelled far, but the question is where are you now?"

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