With her sister Janet Newman OBE, who died in June 2016, Mary founded the charity Missing People (then the National Missing Person’s Helpline) in response to the 1986 disappearance of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh. Together they launched a free helpline for missing people and their families, leading a team of dedicated volunteers in creating what remains the only charity of its kind in the UK.
Mary’s commitment to the cause she championed saw it registered as a charity in 1993. The fledgling charity was bolstered by early and ongoing support from Sir Trevor McDonald, HRH, The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO, John Stapleton and Alastair Stewart OBE as well as a visit from Diana, Princess of Wales.
Sir Trevor McDonald said in reaction the news:
“Mary, together with her sister Janet, leave a great legacy. I was honoured to be Patron of the Charity from the early days and saw it blossom as they worked tirelessly and with true passion and dedication to establish a national service for missing people and families left behind.”
The charity is needed now as it was in the beginning as someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. 176,000 people are reported missing every year and 76,000 are children.
The ethos and the heart of the charity continues to reflect their founding vision. The sisters were recipients of OBEs in 1996, recognising their selfless dedication and determination for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Mary and Janet stepped down from their official roles at Missing People in 2004 and they have continued to be part of it at charity events and in key moments.
Jo Youle, Chief Executive of Missing People said:
“Mary and Janet have left a powerful legacy for the missing person’s community. Every member of the charity continues to deliver the mission that the sisters started – of being a lifeline when someone disappears. Their spirit and passion touched so many lives, in so many ways. They always supported me in my leadership of the charity, and I was always so appreciative of that special support. I will miss them both”
The thoughts and condolences of everyone at Missing People are with Mary’s friends – many of them former colleagues and her family.