THE FAMILY of missing journalist John Cantlie have held a memorial service for him.

In a moving message, they said they were shutting down social media accounts dedicated to keeping his memory alive and which put out news on the journalist who was kidnapped by Muslim extremists ten years ago.

It was John’s 52nd birthday on November 7.

In a Facebook statement, they said: “It is nearly six years since there was proof of his being alive and we have all hoped and prayed for this man for nearly ten years.

“To celebrate John’s amazing life, his family have held a memorial service of thanksgiving for him.

“We thank you for all your amazing support and messages – always with love and light.”

John grew up in East Meon, went to school in Winchester, and has close family in Steep.

He worked as a journalist for motorbike magazines, but when the war against the Muslim extremist terror group ISIS broke out in Syria, he travelled there to cover it as a photo-journalist.

In July 2012 he was kidnapped by ISIS extremists and rescued a week later.

Then in November 2012 he was again captured by ISIS and held along with other Western hostages.

They were either beheaded or disappeared, and a gaunt-looking John was forced to make a series of short videos on behalf of ISIS.

In July 2017, reports surfaced in Iraqi media claiming he had been killed in an air strike some time during the battle to retake the city of Mosul from the extremists.

And in October 2017, a French ISIS fighter told French magazine Paris Match that he had seen Cantlie “seven or eight months ago” in Raqqa.

Throughout the ordeal, his sister Jessica, who lives in Steep with her family, were advised by government experts not to involve the media in John’s case for fear it would provoke his captors into harming him.