The Missing People Choir was formed in 2014 and is made up from singers whose relatives have vanished. The choir was set up by James Hawkins and Clare Cook from the charity Missing People. It raises funds for the Missing People charity, which promotes awareness of people who’ve disappeared and throws a lifeline to their loved ones. They aim to bring families with missing loved ones together and using music to help express emotions and reach out with their message of hope and loss. The choir meets on a monthly basis in central London and is open to anyone who has experienced a family member go missing.
The group became one of the biggest sensations on Britain’s Got Talent television show following a string of emotional TV performances. Their moving performance of the song ‘I Miss You’ which they performed while appeals for their missing loved ones ran on screen behind them, caused Simon Cowell to exclaim: ‘What a brilliant idea!” Fellow judge Amanda Holden told them: “You did yourself proud”. They went on to reach the finals of the talent competition, and the awareness raised by their performance was responsible for bringing a number of missing home.
Its members include Peter Boxell whose 15-year-old son Lee disappeared in September 1988. Peter wrote the song “I Miss You” which moved viewers to tears on the show’s contest. The last time Peter Boxell saw his son Lee, he had just crawled out of bed and was still in his pajamas, like a typical 15-year-old. It’s a memory Peter cherishes more than any, for later that day – September 10, 1988 – Lee disappeared without a trace. “That was the beginning of our living nightmare,” says Peter, 70. Life continued to be a struggle for the dad of two until he received help from the Missing People Choir in 2014.
The choir also includes the sister of Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards, who went missing at age 27 in 1995, and the father of Chef Claudia Lawrence, who disappeared in 2009, age 35.
A moving appeal by The Missing People Choir has helped spark a potential new lead in an unsolved case dating back 14 years. Among the faces broadcast to millions of TV viewers was Tom Moore who vanished in 2003. After seeing his picture, a possible sighting of Tom – who was 31 when he vanished in Italy – was reported. A video and images were sent to his missing person website by a 15-year-old boy following the choir’s performance on the talent show. Tom’s brother Ben said: “Of all of the images I’ve been sent, this is probably the closest and most realistic to Tom. “It feels like it could be a realistic chance that we might actually find Tom.”
In another case, police searched a graveyard for a missing teenage mother who was also shown by The Missing People Choir. Relatives of Natalie Putt believe her picture shown during the choir’s performance may have sparked a breakthrough in the investigation into her disappearance. Police detectives announced they had begun exhuming four graves in a cemetery.
Natalie was 17 when she left her home in to go to a local shop in September 2003. She was never seen again and left behind her baby son who was just 11 weeks old. Her half-sister Rebecca Coggins said: “A picture of Natalie was shown on Britain’s Got Talent show during the Missing People Choir’s performance and it seems to have sparked interest in her case. “She is the missing piece from her family – not a day goes by when I do not think and miss her, she was a special girl with her whole life ahead of her. “Someone knows something, people do not just disappear – all we need is a little chink and the police will do the rest.” After the appeal was broadcast, Rebecca posted on Facebook: “Thank you BGT Missing Natalie Putt still sad to see you on there but I’m so grateful they featured you tonight.”