Body found in search for missing poet last seen at UK festival


A body has sadly been found during the search for an award-winning poet after he vanished from a festival on Saturday.

Police officers made the discovery shortly before 9am on Thursday, August 31, in the course of a specialised search of the area.

Gboyega Odubanjo, 27, had been reported missing on Sunday, August 27, having last been seen at Shambala festival in Northamptonshire early the previous morning.

There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Detective Chief Inspector Johnny Campbell said: "Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this very difficult time, and we would ask the media and members of the public to not contact them and respect their privacy.

"We would like to thank all those involved in the search efforts, including the volunteer members of Northamptonshire Search and Rescue and the specialist search-trained officers from other forces who supported our efforts.

"We would also like to thank all those who have supported our investigation by speaking to officers or getting in touch with information.

"Officers from Northamptonshire Police will now prepare a file for the coroner."

Originally from Bromley in south London, Odubanjo was scheduled to showcase his talents at the Kelmarsh event on Sunday. However, he failed to make an appearance for his performance.

The poet achieved recognition for his pamphlet titled "Aunty Uncle Poems", which earned him the prestigious Poetry Business New Poets prize in 2020.

He also received the Eric Gregory award from the Society of Authors, as well as the Michael Marks pamphlet award.

The Shambala Festival, held at Kelmarsh Hall to the west of Kettering, serves as a platform not only for musical performances but also for poetry readings, comedy acts, and speakers.

Mr Odubanjo is an editor at Bad Betty Press and the poetry magazine Bath Magg, and his poem Oil Music was featured as a Guardian poem of the week in 2021.

In a joint statement, Mr Odubanjo’s family issued an appeal to try and find him. It read: "We appeal to you today with heavy hearts and profound concern, to help us find our beloved son and brother Gboyega.

"Gboyega is a loving and caring son who means the world to our family. He is currently studying for his PhD in creative writing at University of Hertfordshire. He has a warm and infectious personality, a contagious smile, and a heart full of kindness.

"We believe that Gboyega’s disappearance is entirely out of character for him, and we are genuinely worried for his safety and wellbeing. We are reaching out to the community, friends, and all compassionate individuals who may have any information that could lead to his safe return. No piece of information is too small, and your help could be the key to bringing him back to us.

"Thank you for taking the time to read our appeal. We pray for Gboyega’s safe return and for the strength to endure this challenging time."

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