FRIENDS and family of a holidaymaker who went missing in the Spanish hills for two days have spoken of their relief after he was found safe and well by police last night.
John Ronald, 74, from Restalrig, and his wife, Martha, 78, had boarded a bus to their holiday apartment in the hills in the Benalmadena region of southern Spain on Monday.
However, they had to sit in separate seats and Mr Ronald, who has dementia-like symptoms after suffering a stroke two years ago, did not notice his wife getting off the bus.
The family were deeply concerned about Mr Ronald, who they said had no money and was left in the open in the summer heat.
After a police search, he was found 15 miles away in Fuengirola, dehydrated and with worn shoes. Mr Ronald said he was unable to remember anything.
The couple have been holidaying in the same area for several years and have a number of friends in the area. Family members had launched an appeal through the media for help in finding him before he was traced yesterday.
Police from Spain’s Civil Guardia were understood to have searched a large area before finding Mr Ronald last night. It was not clear what he had been doing for the two days he was missing.
Mr Ronald’s nephew, Colin Mackay, a security officer at the Scottish Parliament, said the family had been “frantic with worry”.
“It is very hot out there and the area between the bus stop by the Minerva Apartments, where my aunt got off, and the bus terminus in Mijas is hills and scrub land where there have been forest fires.
“We are so thankful he has turned up and really relieved.
“He has lost weight, is dehydrated and his shoes are worn through, so he must have been doing a lot of walking while he was missing.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office had been providing assistance to the family during the search, and a spokesman said they were pleased he had been found safe.
“It must have been very worrying for them not knowing where this gentleman was,” he added.
Neighbours of the family spoke of their relief that Mr Ronald had been traced.
Laura Mair, 26, said: “I’m very pleased to hear he’s been found safely. They are a lovely, friendly couple. They always say hello when you pass them in the street.”
Another neighbour who did not wish to be named said it was a huge relief that he was safe.
“They are very good neighbours, great neighbours,” he said. “I don’t see very well and they help me out with that. It must have been very hard for them as he had a stroke a couple of years ago and Martha looks after him.”
Tom Howieson, 82, said: “They’re a very pleasant couple. I know John goes to a day care centre once a week because he suffers from some form of dementia.”