Body in Russian mountains could be that of Ilkley hiker

Missing: John Stiles

Missing: John Stiles

First published in News by

A BODY believed to be that of missing Ilkley father-of-two John Stiles has been recovered from remote high ground in the Russian Caucausus Mountains.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working closely with agencies in Russia, as well as his wife, Isabelle, following the discovery of a man's body in the mountains last month.

An experienced mountaineer, Mr Stiles, 52, has been missing since Sunday, November 10 2013, when he set out on a ten-hour hike in the mountains near Vladikavkaz in North Ossettia.

Although DNA testing has yet to confirm his identity, Mrs Stiles this week spoke of her relief that the search for her husband could be at an end.

It is believed Mr Stiles' wedding ring and other personal possessions have also been recovered, and a post mortem examination has been carried out in Russia.

Mrs Stiles said: "It was a big, big shock, but somehow it was also a huge relief.

"We're going to get him back and we're going to bury him in Ilkley Cemetery. When he was missing it was an unreal situation, it's quite consuming. It's hard to share that experience with others, it's not something you can relate to unless you've been in this situation."

She feared she might grow old never having learned what became of her husband.

Mrs Stiles added: "For his mum it's devastating, but she's also relieved. For her, it was the fact her son was left alone out there."

But it is believed it could be some time before he is finally brought home.

Emergency relief organisation EMERCOM has worked in conjunction with Russian Civil Defence since Mr Stiles was reported missing in November.

A brightly coloured object was spotted on July 17, it is understood, and a helicopter sent in on July 18 to recover a man's body from the mountains.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said this week: “We have been in close contact with the local search and rescue authorities in Russia since Mr Stiles went missing in November 2013. We continue to provide consular assistance to Mrs Stiles at this difficult time."

She added: “We are aware of reports that a body has been found and are in contact with the local authorities."

Croydon-born Mr Stiles had been working in Grozny as a Country Director for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) for the last two years, helping Chechen families displaced by the wars with Russia on housing, legal aid and income generation projects.

He had been commuting between Russia and Ilkley every three months where Isabelle and his two children, Hugo and Poppy live.

His career also saw him undertake humanitarian aid projects in North Iraq, where he met Isabelle through their work for the Kurds.

The family travelled together abroad for seven years on projects in Angola, Serbia, Macedonia and Pakistan and when they needed to settle back in the UK, Mr Stiles insisted on returning to Ilkley.

He was a dedicated scout and scout leader in his youth, and volunteered for the 1st Ben Rhydding Scout Group.

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