A TALE of true community spirit unfolded when mystery writer Isobel Lambot went missing in Kington - and even if there was no happy ending the town has good reason to feel proud of itself, writes BILL TANNER.

So says Sgt David Llewellin, whose officers were overwhelmed by offers of assistance during the search, from an 'all night' caf to hunters on horseback.

For Sgt Llewellin it's especially satisfying; he's 'Kington born and bred'. But PCs Dick Alford, Paul Kirkham, Dave Williams and Roger Bradley who make up his team are also 'extremely grateful' for support shown - all too rare elsewhere.

Ties between Kington and its cops have always been close. Anecdotes from this outpost of the West Mercia service are many.

There's one occasion in recent memory that exemplifies all. When 'outsiders' assaulted an officer, such was the strength of feeling that the suspects had to be given an escort away.

In the past decade, the section's piloted a Parish Warden scheme, pioneered Farmwatch and set up an active Neighbourhood Watch network that even established night observer patrols.

Its crime figures would be the envy of many a station, even amid a climate of perpetual performance assessment.

Against this background the assistance offered over Isobel Lambot is hardly surprising. But Sgt Llewellin says the relationship his officers have with their community is something they'll never take for granted.

Here is a sample of examples in the Lambot case:

l More than 120 people volunteered to help when the 74-year-old was first posted as missing.

l Adding to the official effort involving dog handlers and a helicopter was the Radnor and West Hunt - on horseback.

l Dot's Caf stayed open until the early hours feeding hungry police and mountain rescue teams after they had combed rugged Hergest Ridge - the town council helped to pay.

l The fire station offered an infra-red camera and four personnel.

l Three hundred handbills were distributed during the 'wheelbarrow' races.

l Volunteers ensured routine police functions were maintained while the officers were off base.

"At one stage we thought about putting a sandwich board up in High Street to keep everyone posted over progress, we had so many enquiries," says Sgt Llewellin.

Sadly, 74-year-old Mrs Lambot was discovered dead last week (see The Hereford Times 5/7/01). An inquest is to establish what occurred.

"It would have been good to report a happy ending, but it wasn't to be. All we can do is offer thanks to everyone who helped - Kington showed how it can pull together," says Sgt Llewellin.

A funeral mass for Mrs Lambot, missed by many local friends, takes place at St. Mary's Church, Kington, at midday tomorrow (Friday, July 13), followed by a service of committal at Hereford Crematorium.