MELVYN GAMBLIN never checked out of his hotel in Athens on the day the 2004 Olympics ended, and he never caught his flight home to Darlington. He just disappeared.

The 37-year-old was a sports fan – he was attending his fourth Olympic Games and an appeal for information was read over the tannoy when his beloved Boro played in the Greek capital a month later – but he also suffered from ME.

Two weeks after his disappearance, his sister-in-law, Jo Gamblin, said: "We are just desperately worried about him, and it gets worse the longer this goes on."

Seven weeks later, his brother Bryan said: “I wouldn't wish what I am going through on anybody."

Bryan went out to Greece with officers from Durham police, but no leads were found.

After a couple of years, Melvyn’s six-bedroomed house in Swinburne Road was sold and after seven or eight years, even the annual police appeals on the anniversary of his disappearance faded out. There was just nothing to go on.

It is hard to imagine what his family have been going through since, those long years of not knowing, of struggling to come to terms with something indefinable – can you grieve for someone when there’s a chink of hope that you cling to that they are not dead?

They, though, are not alone, and so this week we are reporting on Missing Persons to see if it is possible to find an answer and also to show that although they are gone they are not forgotten.