7.30am Tuesday 2nd Oct, diverted from our planned story, told to drive to Mid Wales, location to be confirmed. From phone calls and Radio Five, we made a plan to report tragic news of April Jones’ abduction.
Approaching Machynlleth; people spread out, searching methodically on the ground, the thickets, hedgerows and bracken. Everyone soaked. Tim had closed his business for the day to bring his staff to help. “Well you have to do something haven’t you?” Dennis, a farmer was using his sheep dog. “We got to find ‘er, I can’t just stand around?” A young woman carrying her two year old, her silence speaking volumes. People from all walks of life, uniting and giving what they could.
The leisure centre was the focal point for all emergency services and broadcasters pitching their media circus. Volunteers worked tirelessly offering hot food, snacks and drinks for the exhausted rescue workers. All believed their efforts would prove fruitful in finding April safe, their collective spirit a driving inspiration.
The week unfolded as a race against time trying to piece together the events leading up to April’s disappearance. We went to villages, numerous woods, and to river banks with camera probes, boats, kayaks. Wherever our camera intruded, we were invited in.
John from a welding company where the suspect once worked painted a picture of what a lovely community Machynlleth was. He had settled there 12 years ago, “a place to bring up your children and have time to share and see it unfold”, highlighting the paradox of our own presence. Politely smiling at the thought of London life, he strongly “recommended” I think of an alternative.
With an arrest for murder, the atmosphere changed and hearts sank. We witnessed a town uniting, creating a spirit and energy that stays with one and reinforces the fact that true giving of whatever you can, is the way forward and restores faith, after such pain, in the human condition.