A BODY found near a York village has been identified as a missing pensioner.

Sheila Sykes, 73, of Dunnington, a long-serving fundraiser for York Against Motor Neurone Disease, was last seen leaving her home at 8pm on Friday.

Her body was found in the River Derwent near Dunnington.

Family and police became increasingly concerned for Mrs Sykes’ welfare as her disappearance was out of character.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said yesterday evening: “Officers searching for missing woman Sheila Sykes have located a body close to Hagg Wood, Dunnington, just before 5pm.

“Mrs Syke’s next of kin have been informed of the discovery.”

Mrs Sykes’ family had issued an appeal for help through The Press in finding her yesterday morning as volunteers from the Scarborough Search & Rescue Team searched Hagg Wood, south east of Dunnington, while members of the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team searched the banks of the River Derwent, with air support from a police helicopter.

Mrs Sykes was a founder member of York Against Motor Neurone Disease which she helped set up after a parent suffered from the disease. She was well known for her fundraising work.

A spokesman for the charity said Mrs Sykes was known as a very popular woman whose charity work had helped many families coping with motor neurone disease in and around York.