THE family of a missing County Durham school teacher who was last seen on Wednesday have issued an emotional appeal to try and bring him home.

Darren Blyth, 55, was last seen on Wednesday after he went to Hawthorn Dene, not far from his home in Trimdon Station, telling his family he was intending to take photographs.

Mr Blyth, who is a biology teacher at Stokesley School, has been married to his wife Mel for 13 years and has two daughters, Abigail, 9, and Katrina, 36.

Mrs Blyth, in an emotional statement today, said her husband had been under “extraordinary pressure” due to coronavirus.

She said: “Darren was stressed about the risks of covid and the effects on his role as a teacher. It has had an impact on his mental health.

“He is a well-loved teacher under extraordinary pressure because of covid and financial pressures, it all got too much for him.

“As a husband and father he is priceless, nothing in the world can replace him.

“We just want him back safe.”

Katrina Blyth, who made a direct appeal to her dad, said: "Dad, the last thing you said to me was, 'Thank you, It’s good to have people you can rely on'.

"There isn’t a problem that we can’t solve, together as a family.

"We can get through anything as long as we’re together. Mel, Abigail, Alex, Tamzin, Sean and I just want you home safe. Please get in touch to let us know that you’re ok. We love you so much."

The Northern Echo:

Katrina and Darren Blyth

Mr Blyth’s disappearance has sparked a major search, involving helicopter, aircraft, drones, and nearly 100 people.

His family have been out helping to put up posters appealing directly to him and have been seeking advice from bushcraft expert Ray Mears, with whom Mr Blyth was friends.

They have also released CCTV images of Mr Blyth arriving at the dene on Wednesday evening.

He left his home in Trimdon Station, County Durham, at around 7pm on Wednesday, stating his intentions to take photographs at Hawthorn Dene.

He was reported missing shortly after midnight when he did not return home.

The Northern Echo:

A CCTV image of Darren Blyth arriving at Hawthorn Dene, in east Durham

The keen photographer, who loved wildlife, is reported to have left his camera in his car.

Hannah Millett, headteacher at Stokesley School, where Mr Blyth has been a teacher for four years, said the whole school community was hoping for his safe return.

She said: “We are all focussing on his safe return. If we can bring him back with hope that would work because that’s how we are all feeling.”

She added: “He is a much-loved teacher. There was an outpouring of emotion on Friday at school when students became aware he was missing and that’s testament to the man he is.

“He runs a wildlife club for vulnerable pupils in non-covid times and he is very focussed on the children.

“He is passionate about his subject and his knowledge and loved passing that on, both in lessons and in extra curricular clubs.

The Northern Echo:

Mel and Abigail Blyth, from Trimdon Station, in County Durham

“He is very much respected as a form teacher as well and has been a tutor to a lot of students. He is fantastic with children.”

Mr Blyth is described as 5ft10, of slim build and with short grey hair. He was last seen wearing a black North Face coat and grey outdoor trousers.

Anybody with any information relating to his whereabouts should contact Durham Police on 101, quoting reference number 005 of April 15.