Volunteers intensify search for missing Hutt woman

7:59 pm on 26 July 2016

Community volunteers are ramping up their efforts to find missing Upper Hutt woman Mary Berrington; today marks a week since she disappeared.

More than 23,000 flyers have been donated and dropped into letterboxes throughout the Hutt Valley in the search for Mary Berrington.

More than 23,000 flyers have been donated and dropped into letterboxes throughout the Hutt Valley in the search for Mary Berrington. Photo: RNZ / ADRIANA WEBER

On Sunday police suspended their ground search for the 62-year-old, who has a mental illness and disappeared from her home last Tuesday.

But that has not stopped friends, family, local businesses and strangers from donating whatever they can to help look for Ms Berrington, who is well known in the Upper Hutt community for her chatty and friendly nature.

The search to find her has so far spanned six days, involved hundreds of volunteers and included the printing, folding and delivery of 40,000 flyers across the Hutt Valley region.

Today helicopter pilot Mark Frickleton, who leases his R44 to Kapiti Heliworx in Paraparaumu, flew his chopper over the Hutt Valley, concentrating on bush areas, to try to find her.

Mary Berrington

Mary Berrington Photo: NZ Police

He said if it was a member of his family missing, he would hope someone else would do the same.

On the ground, Robyn Rust was coordinating the handing out of flyers.

"Today the volunteers are just absolutely giving it their all, people are coming in, picking up a couple of supermarket bags full of leaflets, and saying 'look, I'll deliver around the streets in my area'. It's absolutely phenomenal the outpouring of support and willingness of the community to come and help look for Mary."

She was overwhelmed by how generous people were.

"One particular family, they've had their teenage kids out during the school holidays last week, searching and assisting. They marched all over the Hutt Valley in the weekend, in the pouring rain, and they are there every single evening to searchers saying 'where do you want us to go tonight'."

Ms Rust said local businesses have also been a huge help, with Countdown Upper Hutt donating food and hot drinks for all the volunteers as well as a few thousand printed flyers.

Store manager Barry Tormey said the store did not hesitate to help.

"As part of the Upper Hutt community we're really keen to help out in any efforts to find Mary. She's a well-known local and the community has really rallied up to help find her and she is one of our customers as well," he said.

"We are hoping and praying that Mary is found safe and sound and we are thinking of the family here in store."

Hutt & City Taxis manager Paresh Hari said he had similar thoughts.

"We could only feel for those concerned relatives of [Mary] and I don't think anyone would like to be in that position, so the more we can help the better it is."

The company has also agreed to help, with all of its 100-plus drivers handing out flyers to customers.

A Finding Mary Berrington [https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Mary-Berrington-647095992113044/

Facebook page] has also been created, with thousands of people liking it and posting messages of support.

Daniel Talbot has been using his office to house a group of volunteers who will continue to search for Ms Berrington.

Daniel Talbot has been using his office to house a group of volunteers who will continue to search for Mary Berrington. Photo: RNZ / ADRIANA WEBER