NEWS
11/02/2019 10:31 GMT | Updated 11/02/2019 11:15 GMT

Celebrities Are Helping Fund The Search For Missing Pilot David Ibbotson

A search operation ended last week after the body of the footballer was recovered, but David Ibbotson has not been found.

At least £150,000 has been raised to help find the pilot of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala, thanks to donations by celebrities helping to fund the search. 

The family of David Ibbotson launched crowdfunding efforts on Friday to continue the search for 59-year-old, who was flying the plane carrying the Argentine footballer when it crashed in the English Channel.

An inquest into Sala’s death is due to open at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court on Monday.

It comes as Ibbotson’s wife, Nora, told Good Morning Britain they “can’t leave him out there on his own”.

“We’re still holding on a little bit. Obviously we do know he’s gone but we want him back,” she said.

“We’re a very close family, he supported us all, he was our rock. 

“We can’t leave him out there on his own. Until we’ve tried to do everything we can, this is why we’ve done the appeal.”

A donation from broadcaster and former footballer Gary Lineker of £1,000 is registered on the page, which he shared with his 7.2 million Twitter followers on Saturday.

A £27,000 donation under the name Elie Lottin, apparently made by France’s World Cup winning footballer Kylian Mbappé, is also registered.

The page has a fundraising target of £300,000.

A message on the site reads: “Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves.

“As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.

“As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.

“To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.

“We can not bear the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.”

More than 8,000 people have so far donated with many posting messages of condolence to his family.

However, some social media users called on football’s well-resourced governing bodies to fund the search.

Sala’s body was recovered in a privately-funded search which was launched after the initial search was called off three days after the men and their plane, which had been travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff, went missing. 

The inquest into his death will take place in Dorset because his body was brought to shore on the Isle of Portland.

Although Ibbotson, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been located, poor weather conditions meant a “difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close”, a spokesman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said on Wednesday.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.