A Change of Guard

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Monday, 27 August 2012

Mum's charity fund for Cambodia backpacker

Missing son will live on in school built in his honour
Eddie Gibson
Missing for 8 years ... Eddie Gibson

A SHATTERED British family want to build a school in Cambodia – to give hope to a country where their son disappeared.

Nineteen-year-old Eddie Gibson vanished there almost eight years ago.
Now his family have set up a charity, hoping to raise £50,000 to build the school in the area where he went missing.
Mum Jo Clark, 58, said: “We want to keep his name alive. I’m hoping that if Eddie has a constant presence over there that it might help to jog the locals’ memories — and hopefully we’ll be able to get some answers.”
Eddie gave up Asian and Pacific studies at Leeds University and caught the first flight he could to Thailand — going on to Cambodia on October 9, 2004.
Jo, from Brighton, said: “He was a spontaneous, impulsive person and when he had his mind set on something he would go for it — so that didn’t surprise me.
“He got in contact with me after a week of being there — he explained why he’d dropped out of his studies and said he needed time to clear his head.
Jo Clark with Eddie
Keeping memory alive ... Mum Jo Clark with Eddie
Paul Neale 
“He had been looking forward to uni but he just didn’t enjoy it. I think he found it disappointing. I was in contact with him until October 24, when he sent us his last email, saying, ‘I’m coming home on November 1. I’m really looking forward to seeing you. Love you — you’re the best mum in the world’.”
But when Jo went to collect her son at the airport, he didn’t turn up. The family haven’t heard a word from him since.
Jo, and Eddie’s father Mike, 65, did all they could to find him. Jo said: “We tried, but in the end we felt we weren’t getting anywhere.
“I was phoning all the Cambodian hospitals. Of course there’s a massive language barrier, and also the time difference. It was a nightmare. Mike went to Cambodia with Eddie’s older brother Elliot to look for clues. They spoke to the British consulate but they explained there was very little they could do.”
They did manage to piece together that a local girl had caught Eddie’s attention.
He had met Ami at Phnom Penh’s Heart Of Darkness bar and they stayed in some of the city’s hotels. Jo says: “I can’t help but think that something bad happened to Ed — and I think Ami knows more than she is letting on.”
Suspicious ... Eddie met local girl Ami before he went missing
Michael Sheridan
But the school project has given the family some hope.
Jo says: “If I don’t ever find out what happened to Eddie then at least losing him isn’t for nothing.
“We’ll be giving something back to a country where children desperately need help. He can live on in that way.”
To find out more about the Eddie Gibson Charity, or to donate, visit eddiegibson.net.

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