Posted on 7th March 2018
At 10am on Sunday, August 22, 2004, Brian Watson walked out of hospital. Fourteen years later his family are still waiting for him to return.
He has missed the births of two grandchildren, 14 wedding anniversaries and walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
But all his family want to know is that he is safe and well.
His wife Sue still lives in the Heanor home the couple bought 43 years ago and hopes that one day there will be a knock at the door - especially today (Wednesday, March 7) on what would have been Brian’s 66th birthday.
Sue, 65, said: “You just live in hope that one day that he will come back.
“I think about him every day. Over the years, it doesn’t get better, but it does get easier.”
Brian admitted himself to hospital for treatment for depression following a double hernia operation in early 2004.
Sue said: “Brian was concerned that it wasn’t healing properly. It played on his mind and that was when he started to go downhill.”
Just before his hospital stay the couple went on holiday to Eastbourne, however, they had only been there for two days when he said he wanted to return home.
Their son, Robert, collected the pair and it was then Brian decided to go to the psychiatric ward of the then Derby City General Hospital, now the Royal Derby Hospital.
Sue said: “Brian thought he might go in for a day or two and be cured – but that wasn’t the case and I don’t think that he liked it.”
Brian wasn’t one to be cooped up indoors, preferring the outdoors where he could indulge his love of fishing.
Sue said: “He liked to be outside. He loved fishing and we like to think that he is somewhere along the riverbank, fishing merrily away.
“He could get on with anybody and he could live quite roughly. He would go fishing in all weathers; nothing would stop him from going.”
And while fishing was close to his heart he was a family man through and through – a doting husband, father and grandfather.
Sue said: “He was a big family man. He only one met one of his grandchildren, Katy, and he loved her to bits and vice versa. She would sit with him for hours. When our daughter Rachel married she appealed for Brian to come back to give her away. But instead it was Robert who gave her away.”
The start of March was always a happy time for Sue and Brian, with the pair celebrating their anniversary on the first of the month and then Brian’s birthday on the seventh.
And Brian would always have a surprise for Susan.
She said: “We hadn’t been away for years because the children were little but before our wedding anniversary back in the 80s he told me that we were going away and it was for him to know and me to find out.
“That first time we ended up in Paris. Every year after that we went somewhere different and I never knew where it was we were going. This year would have been our 43rd anniversary.”
Since 2004 a number of close family members have passed away, including Brian’s mother and father. Susan said: “Brian’s mother suffered from dementia so never really fully understood what had happened.
“His father on the other hand had all his faculties and he would pray every night. It is such a shame that he has gone and doesn’t know what happened to Brian. That makes it all the worse.”
While Susan and the rest of the family would love for Brian to return home, all they want to know is that he is safe.
Susan said: “We just hope that you’re OK. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to come home but just let us know that you’re alright.
“If you do want to come home then that’s fine too. But if you do come home then you will notice a lot of differences.
“People you’ve not seen and people that aren’t here anymore who would have loved to have seen you over the years.
“We live in hope that he will come through the door. Nothing has changed, the locks have because we have had new doors, but apart from that he will know where we are.”
Brian is 5ft 11ins tall and has blue eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he had short, wavy hair which was greying. He has no tattoos but does have a double hernia scar on his stomach. He would generally wear black or blue clothing.
A keen angler, Brian often fished in the local area but also travelled around the country, particularly to the Lincolnshire coast, including Skegness and the nearby village of Thorpe St Peter.
Anyone with information about Mr Watson should call police on 101. You can also contact the charity Missing People by ringing or texting 116 000.