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After twenty years, the hunt for Ben Needham goes on

Friday 7th October 2011, 12:26PM BST.

Ben Needham

Tonight special: Little Boy Lost ? Finding Ben Needham


Long before the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a Portuguese holiday apartment in 2007 rocked the world and its media, Sheffield-born baby Ben Needham disappeared from the Greek island of Kos.


But the blond youngsters angelic face is nowhere near as well known as that of Madeleines.


But it?s not a comparison Ben's mother Kerry likes to dwell on, as she revealed during last nights Tonight programme special that examined her young sons disappearance.


In 1991, while expat Kerry worked in a nearby hotel, 21-month-old Ben went missing from the garden of a farm house her parents were rennovating. They were inside the house at the time but when they came outside to check on Ben, he was gone. He has not been seen since.


?I try not to compare Ben's case to that of Madeleine McCanns but I look at the help the family has had from the British investigation and yes, I do want the same,? a visibly exhausted Kerry reveals to the cameras.


And, after 20 years of what appears to be a one-family fight, it doesnt seem like much to ask.


Last night's programme, while bringing the case up to date, revealed the distinct lack of support Kerry and her family have had in the meantime. The British authorities failed to get involved and it is only now, 20 years later, that the Greek authorities have just agreed to re-open the investigation.


As a former Sheffield-based journalist, Ben's story is one I?m familiar with but its clear that this isn't the case for everyone.


In 1991 there were no mobile phones, no internet and no 24-hour news channels ? Kerry says it was more than a week before a lone British journalist knocked on her door in Kos.


?We just spilled our guts to him,? says Kerry. ?We just wanted the story to reach Britain, for Ben.?


Its almost unbelievable in its contrast to the McCann case and the media frenzy that ensued, and Kerry does well not to drive herself mad by constantly comparing the two.


Little Boy Lost not only served to highlight the ongoing search for Ben but it also showed how much the media itself has changed and evolved over the last two decades.


Last night?s show ended on the positive note that Ben's case has now been re-opened in Greece with the foreign office here pledging support if it's needed and with the news that a childrens charity has even put together a computer generated image of how Ben may look today.


Its a remarkable achievement after all this time but what is most remarkable is the woman behind it all who has simply never given up hope that her son is alive. Kerry Needham lost a 21-month-old baby and now continues to search for a 21-year-old man, and I wish her all the luck in the world.


By Amy Burns


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