Ben Needham: Futile police search gives mother new hope
The mother of Ben Needham has vowed to continue looking for him after a new police operation on the Greek island of Kos failed to find his remains.
A team of officers spent a week searching a site close to the farmhouse where Ben's family was staying when he went missing 21 years ago.
After nothing was found, Kerry Needham, from Sheffield, said she had been given fresh hope her son may still be alive.
The man who led the UK police team said he hoped to reunite mother and son.'Outstanding' search
Mrs Needham said: "In all honesty, I didn't believe that Ben was buried there anyway.
"I had been supported and advised by South Yorkshire Police that this line of inquiry needed to be done as part of an elimination process.
"We can now concentrate on opening another campaign, a worldwide search again."
Ben, who was 21 months old when he disappeared, would have turned 23 on Monday. His family continue to buy birthday cards and light a candle every year to mark the day.
Mrs Needham said: "Living like this every day of my life, keeping up the search, if I thought for one minute that Ben wasn't alive I would give up, wouldn't I? Something drives me on every day to keep looking."
Det Supt Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, who led the British team of officers who took part in the search, said the operation carried out on Kos was "outstanding" and involved the best search teams in the UK.
He said he was convinced Ben's body was not at the site and the force would now continue to work with the Greek authorities to pursue any new lines of inquiry.
The detective said: "Kerry has always maintained that Ben is alive. I share that sentiment in a lot of ways.
"I would much prefer to reunite Ben with Kerry at some time in the future rather than finding him on Kos in those circumstances."