The father of murdered nightclub hostess Lucie Blackman launched a fund yesterday to support other families who suffer the agony of having a loved one go missing abroad.
Tim Blackman wants to help people get through the "ghastly trauma" that overtook him when his 21-year-old daughter vanished in Japan eight years ago.
Along with other families whose relatives have disappeared or been murdered overseas - including Bill and Julia Hawker, from Brandon, Warwickshire, the parents of 22-year-old Lindsay Ann Hawker who was murdered in Japan last year - he has set up Missing Abroad to provide practical and financial aid.
This could range from booking flights and hotel rooms to finding translators, dealing with local authorities and handling the media.
Mr Blackman, a property developer from Ryde on the Isle of Wight, initially struggled to get Japanese police to take an interest in Lucie's disappearance in July 2000.
He repeatedly flew to Tokyo to galvanise detectives' efforts, putting up 30,000 missing person posters, launching a telephone hotline and carrying out investigations.
Today he finds it hard to imagine how he
coped without the kind of support offered by Missing Abroad.
"I can't even think how on earth we managed to deal with some of the logistical stuff - it's just absolutely unbelievable," he said. "We managed, but I was in such a state of shock I couldn't understand what people were saying to me, I couldn't organise anything."
His efforts to find out what happened to his daughter eventually paid off.
Three foreign women came forward to complain about property developer Joji Obara, who was arrested in October 2000.
Obara was cleared of involvement in Lucie's death last year but is serving a life sentence after being convicted of a string of rapes and the death of an Australian woman.
Mr Blackman accepts the availability of cheap air travel and the growing popularity of gap years for young people means other families will experience his tragic plight.
"If you've got £600 you can go anywhere in the world these days. It is going to happen - but I hope it's not going to happen all the time," he said. "We want to be there to help people through the ghastly trauma we had."
Missing Abroad - part of the Lucie Black-man Trust - will fulfill a role currently "completely missing".
"When somebody goes missing or is killed abroad, you don't have the normal back-up you would have," Mr Blackman said. "You don't have your own police force investigating it. Of course, the Foreign Office is there, and they are very helpful in a pastoral way, but they aren't able to take on people's personal investigations and difficulties. And the other thing is nobody can give you any money."
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann from her parents' Portugal holiday apartment last summer boosted awareness, Mr Blackman said.
"The McCann case has raised the bar further after Lucie's case and one or two others," he said. "I think the most important thing it has done is make the public very much aware of the problem. People clearly understand the difficulties that surround all this.
"The relationship between the McCanns and the Portuguese police was raw and open to public view, and I am afraid it demonstrates so precisely what it can get like and how difficult it can be."
Mr Blackman was joined by his other children, Sophie and Rupert, to launch Missing Abroad at an event in central London last night . They were also joined by the Hawker family. ..SUPL: