Botanist Jamie missing in Vietnam

Jamie Taggart on his previous trip to Vietnam, in 2011. Picture by Hannah Wilson
Jamie Taggart on his previous trip to Vietnam, in 2011. Picture by Hannah Wilson

Mountainous areas of northern Vietnam are being searched for a botanist who has gone missing while on a plant-hunting trip.

Jamie Taggart was last seen on November 1 – but his family did not discover he was missing until he failed to return home on a flight four weeks after that.

The 41 year-old is a retained firefighter in Cove, where he and his father Dr Jim Taggart run the internationally renowned Linn Gardens.

“Presently he is being searched for, so far without result of any kind,” said Dr Taggart.

Jamie's work has been admired worldwide
Jamie’s work has been admired worldwide

“The story is rather shocking. I only heard about it when he did not come home on the flight he was booked on.

“Something has happened to him, but not necessarily an accident on a hill.”

Dr Taggart said there had already been two days of dedicated searching in the area near Sapa.

Jamie arrived in a guest house in the town on October 30 and left on a motorbike taxi to explore the hills on November 1.

On November 2 his abandoned rucksack and passport were found at the guest house and first local police and then the British Embassy in Hanoi were informed.

Dr Taggart contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on December 2 – and discovered they already knew about his son’s disappearance.

A search plan was agreed with the FCO on December 4 but nothing has been found so far.

An FCO spokesperson said: “We are aware a British national was reported missing on 31 October whilst in the Sapa Mountain area, Vietnam.

“We are in close contact with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance to their family at this difficult time.”

Of the investigation and searches for Jamie, he said: “We are in close contact with the local authorities, who have told us that they are conducting a search.”

Dr Taggart said Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid and former Dumbarton MP Lord McFall of Alcluith had both been in contact with the FCO, while the Scottish Fire and Rescue service was also making inquiries.

Jamie is well known in the Cove and Kilcreggan area as a firefighter and keen runner.

Prayers for his safety were said at Craigrownie Church yesterday (Sunday).

Jamie took over responsibility for Linn Botanic Gardens from his father in 1997 and it draws visitors from all over the world to the Rosneath Peninsula.

In March this year it was recognised for its national importance by being added to Historic Scotland’s Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

When announcing the listing, Elizabeth McCrone, Historic Scotland’s head of listing and designed landscapes, said: “It is of outstanding importance for its horticultural value, its value as a work of art, and for its historic and nature conservation value.

“As a result, it is one of the best examples of its type and of national significance.”

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