The sky has another bright star tonight

IPSWICH: Sarah Shields’ motto in life – “to love and be loved” – rings heart-achingly true today for the army of family and friends whose lives she has touched.

As fears grew last night that a body found in the sea off a Spanish holiday island was that of Sarah, shock and disbelief was being felt by many 2,000 miles away in the Ipswich community where she grew up into a much-loved young woman with so much to live for.

The family of Sarah Shields are enduring the agony and torment, waiting to hear more news from Spanish authorities of the fate that has befallen their beloved daughter, sister and aunt.

Last Wednesday, the body of a woman was discovered off the coast of the south of the island, near to the town of Puerto Rico.

Police are waiting for formal identification to happen, but today Miss Shields’ friends are awaiting news in a state of shock and sorrow.

When the 23-year-old failed to return home on Sunday with her boyfriend Christopher Chittock, concerns grew for her safety.

It is understood friends and family members have not spoken to her since she went away around two weeks ago.

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Sarah appeared to have everything to look forward to.

She had just moved into a new flat in Alnesbourn Crescent in Ravenswood with her boyfriend and earlier this year she tarted a new job, according to friends.

It was her first holiday with Mr Chittock since they got together earlier this year.

Updating her page on the social networking site Facebook, Miss Shields said: “There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.”

On May 17: “Holiday booked, only 6 weeks away now. First hols with my man.”

Another update on June 28 said: “Now on the way to the airport.”

And while enjoying her break in Gran Canaria on June 30 Miss Shields updated her status. She said: “Been sunbathing by the pool all day with my sexy bloke today.

“In 2 days I’m so brown love it. Now off for cocktails.”

As Mr Chittock is held on the suspicion of Miss Shields’ murder, messages of support and outpourings of grief have flooded social networking sites.

Friends have revealed their shock at the news the former Copleston High School student is missing feared dead.

And many have offered their words of support and comfort to her devastated family.

Alice Swallow, who has been a friend of Miss Shields for six years said: “I really hope it is not her.

“I have known Sarah since she was about 17.

“She is chatty, friendly and was just a nice girl. Sarah was outgoing and just wants to be happy.”

Miss Swallow, of Brantham, said although they had been quite close they had not seen each other since February as they each had things going on in their lives.

“I spoke to her because she got a new job working at BOC in Ipswich.”

The pair last communicated through text messages in April.

Miss Swallow said: “She wanted me to go round to see her because she had moved in with her boyfriend, but I said I couldn’t. I felt really bad about that.”

The 23-year-old added that Sarah was also an experienced traveller and was not fazed about being on her own when she went to America last year.

“Sarah went on holiday to Miami last year with her niece for two weeks. Her niece had to go back home and Sarah stayed there on her own.

“Sarah came back and had lots of photos and put them on Facebook. She said she had a good time.”

Miss Shields had been in a relationship for around three years until two years ago, when she broke up with her boyfriend at the time.

She is understood not to have been another steady relationship until getting together with Mr Chittock earlier this year.

Leaving messages on Facebook friend Kayleigh Warren said: “The sky has another bright star tonight. My thoughts are with the family and friends xxx.”

Another message from Laura Edwards said: “If its true, RIP :-( you will be missed by everyone. Its shocking. My thoughts are with your family xx.”

Miss Shields’ employers BOC said they cannot comment at this time.

n Did you know Sarah Shields? Call the Newsdesk on 01473 324790 or alternatively you can send an e-mail to starnews@eveningstar.co.uk