Search for Theo a ‘display of compassion and humanity’
FEW things have bound a community together in a way that would rival the search for Theo Hayez, after he mysteriously vanished from Byron Bay.
The team who led the search for Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has been recognised among our top volunteers.
A range of individuals from across the Northern Rivers have also been recognised for their commitment to their communities in the 2020 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.
For their tireless efforts in trying to find some trace of Theo, it's a large team that has been recognised for their work in the 15 months since the 18-year-old disappeared.
Sheri D'Rosario said her family came to Byron to be a part of a caring, connected community.
"My family moved up here from Melbourne because we wanted to be a part of a community that had a really lovely community spirit," she said.
"Seeing the way everybody came together around Theo being missing … it was a lovely display of compassion and humanity.
"It really solidified my reasons for coming here."
Ms D'Rosario said the search team's recognition shone a light on the importance of community-wide involvement in missing persons cases.
And their efforts have not come to a close.
"We're still looking for Theo and we're still wanting people to come forward," she said.
The group's nomination estimated 80 people were involved with the volunteer search, but Ms D'Rosario said the number of people involved in any way was probably much larger.
"I've been so surprised by the generosity of people from all different areas," she said.
"People provided food and people have their homes and cars and their professional skills as well."
She said this had included cartographers, oceanographers, and now data analysis and private investigation expertise.
"I want to acknowledge everybody who helped out in any way," she said.
"Even the smallest gestures were very important to creating the team we've had."
Theo was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey's Bar on Jonson St, Byron Bay on May 31, 2019.
He was reported missing to NSW Police a week later, after he failed to checkout of a Belongil backpackers accommodation.
Anyone with information about his disappearance is urged to visit https://www.looking4theo.com/ and contact Crime Stoppers.