Belfast Telegraph

Please get in touch, Stephen... sister's plea to missing man still grieving for his mum

By Chris Kilpatrick

The family of a man who has been missing for two weeks believe he may have left home because he is heartbroken over the death of his mother.

Stephen Buchanan, from Ballycarry, Co Antrim, has not been seen since September 26.

The 56-year-old’s family say they are devastated by the lack of contact from him, which they say is completely out of character.

His sister Linda Hooke said the day before he was last seen was her birthday. It was the first time he had failed to show for a family celebration.

Mrs Hooke said her brother had been badly affected by the the death in January of his mother, with whom he lived.

Lilian Buchanan suffered from Huntington's disease and required round-the-clock attention.

She was diagnosed with the condition two years prior to her death and her son dedicated his life to caring for her.

“Mum’s condition made her paranoid, anxious and very scared,” said Mrs Hooke. “She could get up and walk off at any time so we had to keep an eye on her. Stephen had many sleepless nights, it was very tough on him.

“He was very, very close to her. When she passed we knew we had to keep a close eye on him.

“He didn’t like living on his own afterwards. He seemed OK at first then he would be nervous and frenzied. Looking after mum was Stephen’s life.”

Mrs Hooke said her brother would only leave his mother on Sundays to go cycling.

It is thought Mr Buchanan may have been riding a black and orange Canondale bicycle when he was last spotted in the Groomsport/Millisle area.

Mrs Hooke said she is desperate for him to get in contact, adding that his absence from her birthday last month is the most alarming aspect of his disappearance.

“Stephen wouldn’t miss my birthday, he never has missed one before,” she said.

“We always meet up for dinner on our birthdays with other members of the family.

“That, combined with the fact he didn’t take his glasses for reading, he didn’t take his wallet, and his debit cards are still there.

“There are no records of any bank transactions since Stephen went missing.

“That’s very worrying — that he won’t have any money for somewhere to spend the night.”

Mrs Hooke last spoke to her brother on Thursday, September 20. She said there were no signs he was unduly concerned or worried about anything.

She said while quiet and shy, Mr Buchanan was well-known throughout the local area, having lived in Ballycarry since 1965.

She begged her brother to get in touch, adding: “Although I’ve a loving husband and family, Stephen not being around makes me feel very alone.

“I was in his house since and it was the most awful experience of my life.

“Seeing all the family pictures and having all those memories.

“It was heartbreaking. I’d love him to just let us know he’s OK.

“It doesn’t matter what has happened, we can sort it out together. We love him very much and so many people have called, we just all want to see him again.

“He doesn’t have to tell us where he is, if he just lets me know he’s OK.”

Background

Stephen Buchanan from Ballycarry was last seen in the Groomsport/Millisle area on Wednesday, September 26. Mr Buchanan is described as tall, of slim build, with receding cropped hair. His family said he was devastated following the death of his mother. He cared for her until her death earlier this year. His sister Linda Hooke has begged for him to let his family know he is safe.

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