John Boyd back safely at home with his granddaughter’s dog. Picture: Ruth Walford

The relieved family of a pensioner who was found safe after going missing has thanked the community for their “kindness and support”.

A major  four-day search was sparked after John Boyd, 77, was reported missing from his home town of Downham Market last Tuesday.

But unbeknown to the family, he had been found later that day at London’s King’s Cross station and had been taken to a nearby hospital.

Mr Boyd was not identified until last Saturday after a nurse recognised him from social media posts stating he was missing from West Norfolk.

There had been particular concern for Mr Boyd as he has semantic dementia, a rare form of dementia which affects communication.

Although CCTV did not capture Mr Boyd boarding a train from Downham, it is believed that’s how he made his way to London.

Ruth Walford, Mr Boyd’s granddaughter,  said: “We as a family would like to thank everyone involved in the search for John for their kindness and support last week.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response. We’d like to thank all those who shared on social media, reached out with kind words and rallied round the family.

“We’d like to extend special thanks to those who braved the conditions and gone out to search for him. This includes the Coastguard, Lowland Search and Rescue, and members of the public. It was amazing to see so many members of the local community band together in the search for him. 

“We were staggered by the community spirit in not giving up, even after four days of freezing temperatures. Downham Market truly is a remarkable town and we are blessed to call them our neighbours. 

“We have also been incredibly impressed by Norfolk Police, who were empathetic and professional and really put their all into looking for my grandad.  We will be eternally grateful.”

On Monday, Chief Superintendent David Buckley, Norfolk’s County Policing Commander, said the force will looking to see if any lessons could be learned from Mr Boyd’s case.

He said: “I want to start by saying how pleased we are that John has now been reunited safely with his family at, what must have been, a hugely distressing time for them all.” 

He confirmed extensive searches were carried out and Mr Boyd was not seen on CCTV controlled by British Transport Police at Downham train station.

“However, our ongoing work and subsequent television appeal, revealed that John had, in fact, travelled to King’s Cross train station, where he was found by officers from the local force and taken to hospital where he remained safe, being cared for by hospital staff.” 

 Mr Buckley said all of the evidence and circumstances suggested Mr Boyd would be in the Downham Market area.

“Clearly, the most important thing is that John is safe and well. 

“As a matter of course, we will be speaking with partner agencies in London to see if there are any lessons to learn to make sure there were no missed opportunities which could have led to John being identified as found sooner.”

He added: “I wish to take this further opportunity to thank local communities again for the support we received from volunteers and the public in general as we searched for John.”