A former cathedral chorister from Sussex is among the thousands of people missing, feared dead, in the terrorist attacks on New York.

The Brighton College schoolboy, whose voice brought tears to his former music teacher's eyes, is believed to have been working in the World Trade Centre tower first struck by one of the hijacked jets.

Today his parents, Doug and Laura Eaton, of Ditchling, were travelling to St Paul's Cathedral, where he was a chorister, to attend a service to remember their son and thousands of others who are believed to have perished in the attacks.

Albion fan Robert, 37, was believed to have been working on the 105th floor of the tower when the terrorists struck just before 9am local time.

The plane ploughed into the building three storeys below.

His mother Laura heard news of the attacks on the radio at her home in Ditchling. She immediately tried to call her son but the phone rang three times before the line went dead.

Yesterday she said: "I can't believe I will never see him again. We keep seeing these horrific scenes on television and it doesn't seem real."

Robert, a merchant banker for Cantor Fitzgerald, last spoke to his parents on the phone when they were on holiday in Spain.

He had called his mother at the hotel two weeks ago to check she was feeling better after hurting her back.

After hearing of the attacks Mr and Mrs Eaton at first did not think it was their son's building that had been hit. It was only after calling Robert's American wife Jacqui at the couple's home in Long Island that they realised their son was probably in the building.

Mrs Eaton said: "He was so near the top we know the chances of him getting out alive were slim. It's terrible to think of him and all those other people desperately trying to get out. His wife is so distressed I can barely understand her on the phone. She still doesn't believe it is true."

Robert's three sisters travelled to stay with their parents the night after the attack.

Tomorrow the family will attend the memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be present. Mr Eaton said they were still working out how to tell the youngest of their seven grandchildren, aged six to 13, that their Uncle Robert has gone.

He said: "The young ones are upset but don't really understand what is happening. They think he is in hospital and will be coming to see them again."

On regular visits to Sussex, stopping over on flights between his bank's offices in New York, Frankfurt and London, Robert spent weekends with his parents.

Whenever he was back, he and his father used to watch the Albion play.

Mr Eaton said: "He was mad about football. He used phone me to talk about the game after looking on the internet before I even knew the score.

"He was kind, funny and always willing to help. He was one of those people you instantly liked."

Robert attended Balfour School before winning a scholarship at St Paul's Cathedral where he studied for four years.

After four years at St Paul's, Robert, attended Brighton College in 1977.

One of his former teachers, Conrad Sandercock, said: "I still remember Robert's voice. He sang O For the Wings of a Dove by Mendelssohn and it was breathtakingly beautiful. His loss is extremely sad."

Robert's parents will travel to New York when flight restrictions to America are lifted.