IT IS NOW A year since Michael Forrest was last seen in Lakeside Shopping Centre.
Michael lived in Chelmsford, Essex but he was originally from Glasgow. He moved down to Essex about 40 years ago to work with a company called Hoffmans – where he made ball barings in a factory. Michael’s brother, Tom (who lives in Newcastle) says that his brother wasn’t a ‘loner’, but he only had a small circle of friends. He lived on his own and he never married. Michael was in the early stages of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Tom explains that he was forced to leave his job: “He had a few episodes at work where he got really disorientated. As a result he had been off work for about seven months before he went missing. I spoke to him every week on the phone. He was in Newcastle with me at the end of October. We released his condition was not going to get any better and even discussed him moving in with me full-time. He knew he had been having some bad episodes and he arranged for me to get power of attorney – just in case something happened. He was not officially diagnosed though and had good and bad days.”
Michael went missing on the 7th December 2010. At the time he was 63 and had white hair and a moustache. He was last seen wearing a light grey fitted coat and black trousers. “His care-worker called him the night before and she felt he sounded quite confused and didn’t seem to know who she was. She was so worried that she went around to his house first thing in the morning – but he was already gone. It is my guess that an incident could have occurred to aggravate his condition and possibly accelerate it. He was due to attend Bloomfield hospital that morning to have his first Alzheimer’s test.”
What has been discovered is that Michael left his home in Ockleford Avenue about 07:45 that morning. “He went to collect his morning newspaper like he did every morning. A neighbour waved at him and Michael waved back. Michael was then picked up on CCTV catching the 100 bus to Lakeside Shopping Centre.” Tom says that this was extremely unusual as Michael had never been to Lakeside before. “He was then picked up on CCTV at the shopping centre in various locations. The most significant sighting was on CCTV in the Tescos store around lunchtime. The Police managed to speak to the girl at the customer service desk. She remembers speaking to him because he barged in front of another customer.” Michael seemed anxious as he was trying to withdraw money from the cash machine and was ‘adamant’ that he had money in his account. Tom believes that he was in such a state as he had possibly forgotten his pin number.
Michael was last ever spotted walking away from Lakeside. He was filmed on CCTV along the central reservation of a road that ran parallel to the shopping centre and was walking towards the London area: “No money has gone from his account. He brought shopping at Tescos that day but he was obviously having problems drawing the money out. One member of the public thought they saw him at 6:15pm in the evening coming back along the same road but police didn’t pick this up on CCTV. The last known sightings are on the central reservation at 3:15pm that afternoon. It’s coming up to nearly a year now. There was a massive police search of the area and there is no sign. There is a possibility he could have travelled to London and be living in a care home somewhere? I urge everyone in care homes this morning to look around you – is there anyone there who is confused and has never been properly identified? If so – it could be my brother.”
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