WITNEY residents have pledged to support the family of a backpacker who went missing in Guatemala.

UPDATE: Appeal to bring body home launched

Catherine Shaw, 23, disappeared from her hotel near San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, a week ago and her family and friends in the town became worried for her safety. 

A major search was ramped up yesterday afternoon after a jacket discovered in San Juan La Laguna was 'positively identified as belonging to Catherine', according to a charity involved in the operation.

And last night, it was confirmed that a body had been found, though no formal identification had been made at the time. 


People have been helping however they can from across the world, with £5,000 already raised on social media to support the search.

Meanwhile, by Tuesday evening, about 1,300 people had liked the Facebook group 'Finding Catherine Shaw'.

This urge to help has been mirrored in Catherine's home town, with one district councillor, Rosa Bolger, saying she was sure residents would rally round.

The councillor for Witney East said: "I'm saddened to hear the tragic news that a body has been found. 

"My thoughts are with her family and friends at what must be a very difficult time.

"In Witney, we pride ourselves on our community spirit and I know we'll be here to help and support the family in any way we can."

Oxford Mail:

The Oxford Mail visited Witney yesterday afternoon and discovered many residents had followed the search closely.

One owner of a town centre business, who wished to remain anonymous, said their thoughts were with Catherine's parents.

They added: "As parents, you put yourself in that position [of what her parents must be going through].

"If my child went on a gap year I'd have second thoughts.

"You can't live like that, but it would make you think."

Read again: family 'desperately worried' about missing backpacker

Another resident added: "As parents we can all imagine the sense of dread you’d feel if one of your children went missing so far from home." 

The news quickly spread around the town after Ms Shaw went missing early last Tuesday morning.

She was last seen at the Eco Hotel in Mayachik, near San Pedro and San Juan, at 5.23am.

Oxford Mail:

Her father travelled to the Central American country and is being met by British Embassy officials on arrival.

Ms Shaw had been travelling in Guatemala for two weeks, having previously been in Mexico and California.

She left England in September 2018 and has been described as an 'experienced traveller.' 

A resident in their 20s, who also didn't want to be named, admitted the fact that they are the same age as Ms Shaw means this incident had hit them harder.

They said: "I know a lot of people that have gone to places like South America, living on ranches and doing all sorts of things.

"I've never done a gap year but I've never heard anyone run into trouble."