Friends of Nicola Bulley gather in 'last push' appeal to 'bring her home'

Friends of Nicola Bulley have gathered again two weeks on from her disappearance to appeal for any information that could help ‘bring her home’.

One, Emma White, said it was ‘a real last push’ to ‘jog anybody’s memory’ and make another plea for dashcam footage of Garstang Road, just outside of the village of St Michael’s on Wyre.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’re out with banners, we’ve got placards of Nikki’s face, we’ve got a moving eight-foot LED board with her face on it with the message “Bring Nikki home”.

‘We just need Nikki home for her two beautiful little girls who need their mummy.’

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Timeline of events in the case of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley

At 8.26am Ms Bulley left her home with her two daughters, aged six and nine, dropping them off at school and engaging in a brief conversation with another parent around 15 minutes later, Lancashire Police has said.

She then took her Spaniel, Willow, for a walk along the path by the River Wyre at 8.43am, heading towards a gate/bench in the lower field.

She was seen by a dog walker who knew her at around 8.50am, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways, according to the force.

At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, followed by a message to her friends six minutes later, before logging on to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am.

She was seen by a second witness at 9.10am, the last known sighting.

Her phone was back in the area of the bench at 9.20am before the Teams call ended ten minutes later, with her mobile remaining logged on after the call.

At 9.33am, another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with Willow darting between the two.

According to police, she was wearing a black Engelbert Strauss coat, black jeans and had long green walking socks tucked into her trousers under ankle length green wellington boots.

Her hair was tied into a ponytail and she was wearing a pale blue fitbit.

At 10.50am, Ms Bulley’s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance.

Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation into Ms Bulley’s whereabouts on the same day and appealed for witnesses to contact them.

Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation.

They were assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Bowland Pennine mountain rescue team and the North West underwater search team.

Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search for Ms Bulley at 10.30am on Sunday, according to reports from The Mirror, and around 100 people joined the search.

Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as ‘extremely dangerous’ and saying that activity in these areas presented ‘a genuine risk to the public’.

Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Constabulary said police were ‘keeping a really open mind about what could have happened’, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley’s disappearance as suspicious.

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a potential witness, a man who had been walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

Her family released a statement saying they had been ‘overwhelmed by the support’ in their community, and that her daughters were ‘desperate to have their mummy back home safe’.

Ms Bulley’s parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, spoke to The Mirror about the ‘horror’ they faced over the possibility of never seeing her again.

Her father told the newspaper: ‘We just dread to think we will never see her again, if the worst came to the worst and she was never found, how will we deal with that for the rest of our lives.’

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a second witness who they had identified with the help of the public using CCTV but they told police they did not have any further information to aid their inquiry.

Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit searched the area close to where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found, while police divers scoured the River Wyre.

Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her.

Speaking with Sky News, her sister Louise Cunningham said: ‘There has got to be somebody who knows something and all we are asking is, no matter how small or big, if there is anything you remember that doesn’t seem right, then please reach out to the police.

‘Get in touch and get my sister back.’

Ms Bulley’s father said his family hoped their interview would ‘spark a light’ that would lead to her being found.

Lancashire Police said it was working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.

Ms Riley urged against speculation, but said it was ‘possible’ that an ‘issue’ with Ms Bulley’s dog may have led her to the water’s edge.

She urged the public to look out for items of clothing Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, and gave an extensive list.

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Ms Bulley’s friends also shared heartfelt appeals via television interviews, including Emma White, who told the BBC that Ms Bulley’s daughters were continually asking where she was.

Her partner, Paul Ansell, told Sky News her disappearance is ‘like a dream’.

He said: ’It seems absolutely impossible. it’s like a dream, I can’t get my head around it.’

Ms White cast doubt on the police theory that she fell into a river, telling Sky News it was based on ‘limited information’.

She said: ‘When we are talking about a life we can’t base it on a hypothesis, surely we need this factual evidence.

‘That’s what the family and all of us are holding on to, that we are sadly no further on than last Friday.’

In a Facebook post, Ms Cunningham urged people to ‘keep an open mind’ as there is ‘no evidence whatsoever’ that the dog walker fell in the river.

On the same day, Lancashire Police announced it wanted to trace a ‘key witness’ who was seen pushing a pram in the area near where Ms Bulley went missing on the morning of her disappearance.

The woman described as a ‘key witness’ by police came forward.

The force insisted she was ‘very much being treated as a witness’ as it warned against ‘totally unacceptable’ speculation and abuse on social media.

Reports of a private underwater rescue team set to assist police in Ms Bulley’s search surfaced.

SGI, led by forensic expert Peter Faulding, offered its services free of charge.

The last pictures of Ms Bulley on the day she went missing while walking her dog were also shared by her friend.

Another shared ‘11 facts about her disappearance’ she believed the public should be aware of.

Ms Bulley’s partner Mr Ansell, in a statement released through Lancashire Police, said: ‘It’s been 10 days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back.

‘This has been such a tough time for the girls especially but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends, as well as the wider community and I want to thank them for their love and support.’

Mr Faulding and his SGI team, using specialist sonar equipment to search for Ms Bulley in the river, did not find anything at the end of their first day of searching.

He said his team will look through another stretch of river on Tuesday ‘towards where Nicola went originally missing’.

Ahead of the Specialist Group International (SGI) beginning its second day of searching the River Wyre on Tuesday, Peter Faulding said he did not think the missing mother was in the water.

Speaking with TalkTV, Mr Faulding – a leading forensic search expert and SIG’s founder – said: ‘I personally don’t think she’s in the river, that’s just my gut instinct at this point.’

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In a separate media interview on Monday night, Mr Faulding admitted he was ‘baffled’ by the case.

One of Ms Bully’s friends, Heather Gibbons, similarly said ‘nothing is making sense’.

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Ms Gibbons also said speculation, rife on social media, about the disappearance, was ‘hard’ for the family to take and a stream of visitors, members of the public arriving from far and wide, some bringing children and taking selfies, had made the area feel like a ‘tourist spot’.

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In an update that afternoon, Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley reiterated the force’s belief that Ms Bulley fell in the River Wyre.

‘All possible lines of inquiry, search or investigation, are being exhausted,’ she told reporters.

Police also warned amateur sleuths they ‘will not tolerate’ people breaking into empty or derelict riverside properties to try to find the missing mother-of-two.

Ms Riley said: ‘Whilst it may be well intentioned that people think that that could be a line of inquiry, I would ask them to desist from doing that.’

She added: ‘Because there is no criminal element yet identified, and we don’t expect there to be in this inquiry, then we’re not starting to go into houses because that’s not where the inquiry is leading us.’

Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, visited the spot where police believe she fell into the River Wyre.

He spent 10 minutes on the riverbank near the bench where Ms Bulley’s phone was found, still connected to a work Teams call.

Mr Ansell was accompanied by a police officer and Ms White.

He also spoke with Peter Faulding, the underwater search expert called in by the family to help with the search.

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Mr Faulding later ended his team’s three-day involvement after a ‘thorough and extensive search of the areas we were tasked with by Lancashire Police’ found ‘no sign of Nicola’.

‘It’s a total mystery for me, I really don’t know. In all the searches I’ve done, this is one which will stick with me,’ he said.

‘I’m baffled by it and I think most people are.’

The search operation to find the mum-of-two now moves to the sea.

After combing the banks of the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, two specialist police boats were spotted in Morecambe Bay.

They were later seen moving upstream searching either side of the river.

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Officers confirmed to Sky News that the team has redrawn its focus to the mouth of the river that spills out to the coast as the likelihood of finding Nicola ‘in the open sea becomes more of a possibility’.

Police were given powers to break up groups causing a nuisance in the Lancashire village, amid reports of people coming into St Michael’s on Wyre and filming properties for use on social media.

A friend of Ms Bulley also urged police to search an abandoned house close to where the mum-of-two went missing.

Tilly Ann wrote on Facebook: ‘The abandoned house and outbuildings etc have not yet been searched as it is not currently a crime investigation!!!!!! (This should have been done straight away!).’

Friends gather for another roadside appeal two weeks on from her disappearance.

Members of the local community lined the road in the Lancashire village of St Michael’s on Wyre with banners and placards featuring her photograph, in a plea to ‘bring Nikki home’.

The focus of the police search has now shifted from where Ms Bulley vanished to further downstream, towards where the River Wyre empties into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.

A dinghy with two officers on board could be seen on the water on Thursday, while an orange rescue boat was also spotted appearing to do sweeps of the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the bay, around 10 miles from where the mortgage adviser’s phone was found on a bench, still connected to a work call.

Ms White said the search had been ‘like torture’.

She told the Today programme: ‘It is just a rollercoaster, it is almost like torture — the despair, the unimaginable frustration in the sense that everyone has come together, working so hard: the police, the community, people on the ground.

‘You expect to be rewarded for when you put hard work in, so we just need something, anything, a piece of information that can lead us down a different inquiry.’

Lancashire Police have said their current working hypothesis is that Ms Bulley fell into the river.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, said detectives had looked at ‘every single’ potential suspicion or criminal suggestion that had come in and discounted them.

Multiple searches of the ‘hot-spot’ area near the bench, the suspected ‘entry point’ where Ms Bulley went into the water, have been conducted by police divers and underwater search experts.

Ms Bulley’s family called in help from Peter Faulding, of Specialist Group International, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace of Ms Bulley was found.

He said his searches confirmed Ms Bulley was not in the section of river searched by his team and police divers, but described himself as ‘baffled’ after ending his fruitless search.

Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell has described the ‘perpetual hell’ the family is suffering as they await news, with her daughters asking: ‘Where’s mummy?’

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