It’s not every day you see a poster in a shop window on Rye High Street referring to a missing person, who put it there and why? What connection does Rye have to a missing person from Australia?
When the Missing Person article was published in Rye News it found its way onto social media sites and became well read and shared. Rye News was contacted by Lisa Vermaak who has answered some of the questions for us.
I spoke to Lisa who has just moved back to the UK from Australia. She is actively involved in following up leads on this story on a voluntary basis including those from Brian Seymour, the news reporter at Australia’s Channel 7 Television Network covering the story and Alison Sandy, the Executive Producer of the podcast about this intriguing story, The Lady Vanishes.
The person who asked for the poster to be displayed in Adam’s window was Kristina Panter who lives in Sussex and is the UK volunteer support coordinator for this case. The poster was put in a prominent position in Rye High Street as there is a link to Barclays Bank (now closed) in Rye.
The missing person was known as Marion Barter and later, changed her name to Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel.
While in Australia, Marion taught in The Southport School (TSS) in Queensland and in 1995 or 1996 a teacher from the UK, Susie Cooper, went to The Southport School and met Marion as part of a teacher exchange programme.
These exchanges usually lasted one year and it is believed Susie had returned to the UK before Marion’s trip. It is possible that Marion made contact or met up with Susie when she went to the UK, they had got on well and Marion mentioned to a friend that Susie was a good contact to have when she went to the UK.
Where Susie was from is unknown, it is believed she was single at the time and may have married and now have a different surname.
While Marion was in the UK there’s a possibility she came to stay somewhere in Hastings, as whilst there she sent a postcard to friends in Australia which she bought from a shop in Brighton called the Cat Shop.
It is possible Marion was looking for teaching work and may have made enquiries with local schools.
She is believed to have hired a car in the area and travelled to Hastings and the assumption is she may well have driven to Rye to explore the town. On certain other bank records she gave her contact address as Barclays Bank, Mint St, Rye but nobody knows if she opened an account there. Does anyone connected to the bank remember her name or recognise the photograph?
She also stayed in a hotel in Tunbridge Wells as she called her daughter, Sally from there, the last time she heard from her mother. The call was made soon before it is believed Marion’s passport in her changed name returned to Australia. However, the last time Marion was officially sighted in Australia was at the Surfers Paradise Bus terminal on 23 June 1997.
Before she left Australia her wallet was stolen, possibly three to four months before arriving in the UK, in it were her various proofs of identification, in the name of Marion Barter.
The Australian police have always been criticised for being seemingly unhelpful throughout this case and assumed that Marion had no wish to be found and as a result, the case always referred to as “an occurrence” and not actively pursued.
Interestingly, after more than 20 years, following increased pressure from various people the case has only just been reopened.
Many more questions still remain unanswered. What happened to her, is she alive, if so why hasn’t she touched the money still left in her bank account? Did she change her identity because she didn’t wish to be found, was it changed of her own free will or was she made to do it?
Who did she contact or stay with when she came to the UK, did she return to Australia or travel elsewhere? Did she visit Rye and open a bank account whilst here, did she stay locally, visit anywhere of interest and sign a visitors book?
If you think you can help to unravel this mystery, however tenuous you think your information or link maybe, please contact the following anonymous tip line www.theladyvanishes.org or contact Rye News and see if together we can help to answer some more pressing questions.
Image Credits: Nick Forman .