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Mothers 'Distress' at Missing Daughter

Friday, 25th July 2003.

A MOTHER may move her children to another school after her five-year-old daughter climbed over a fence in the playground and was missing for more than two hours.

Sophie Clark disappeared from Westfield Primary School, Haverhill, on Tuesday morning.

She was reunited with her distraught mother, Donna, after being found in the town centre more than two hours later following a massive search by relatives, school staff and police.

Mrs Clark, of Dalham Place, Haverhill, said other angry parents are organising a petition calling for better security and she is not sure whether to send Sophie and her brother Michael, six, back to the school.

Mrs Clark only found out that Sophie was missing after a phone call from her sister, who had seen the child in the town centre and believed she was with her mother.

"It was a nightmare. The first thing I thought was that a paedophile had got her," she said.

"It was very scary. It is not a very big fence but I cannot believe that no-one saw her climbing over it.

"She went because she was being bullied and she was trying to find me.

"I will not send them back there unless something is done. It should never have happened."

Ian Partner, Mrs Clark's partner, said he found Sophie hiding under a bush on the Chalkstone Estate and immediately drove her in his car to where he knew her mother was searching for her.

"I understand she went missing at 10.45am but I did not know until I got a call at work at 1pm and came to look for her," he said.

"I cannot understand how it happened.

"A lot of the parents are very angry about it and are talking about getting up a petition for better security. It is the school's responsibility to make sure they are safe."

Rosie Campbell, headteacher at Westfield Primary School said: "We were very worried when we discovered that a young girl had gone missing from the playground at lunchtime.

"We immediately launched a systematic search of the school and informed the girl's parents and the police."

She added: "The girl was found within a couple of hours and was reunited with her parents, safe and well.

"We are carrying out an investigation to ensure that we learn any lessons from this incident, which was dealt with very quickly and professionally by staff."

Haverhill Weekly News

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