The parents of missing mum Nicola Bulley have described how she was in good spirits during their last conversation and spoken of their ‘dread’ at the thought of never seeing her again.
Ernest and Dot Bulley said their grandchildren were ‘sobbing their hearts out’ after being told ‘mummy is lost’.
Ms Bulley, 45, was last seen on Friday morning at around 9.20am while walking her dog alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
The mortgage advisor had just dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at the local school in the village.
Her phone was found, apparently still engaged on a work call, on a park bench nearby, along with the harness and lead for her dog, Willow, a springer spaniel.
The dog running loose alerted a member of the public and police were called, but despite a huge search, no trace of Ms Bulley has been found.
A local told the MailOnline the woman who found Willow described how she was ‘bone dry and so hadn’t been in the water’ but was ‘in an agitated state’.
Another speculated whether she could have slipped down a river bank into the water, adding: ‘You just don’t know do you but I do know that she would have never ever left those children voluntarily.’
Ernest, 73, and Dot, 72, told the Daily Mirror their daughter was in good spirits and her disappearance was totally out of character.
Recalling their last conversation, he said: ‘Her mind was great, we picked the children up the Thursday before she went missing, as we do every Thursday.’
He said they stayed a little later while she had a work Zoom meeting and afterwards she seemed ‘very upbeat about getting her mortgage sorted’.
The grandfather added ‘I said we better go now and Nicola came to the front door, and I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her and that was the last conversation I had with her.’
A major search involving a police helicopter, drones, sniffer dogs and specialist divers and equipment has been ongoing for days on the River Wyre near to where Ms Bulley was last seen.
Mr Bulley told the Mirror: ‘There was no sign of a slip or falling in, so our thought was “has somebody got her?”
‘I asked the sergeant from Fleetwood a few days ago, “Is there any chance of her being taken?” and she said, “I don’t think that’s the case”.
‘I said, “How can you know that?” It’s such an isolated area, the only way that has happened is if it was someone who knew her.’
He added: ‘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 Police have said they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about what happened, but do not believe Ms Bulley was attacked.
Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, 44, described the situation as ‘perpetual hell’.
In a statement, her family said: ‘The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola.
‘We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their enquiries.’
Superintendent Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘I must stress at this time that this remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.
‘We appreciate there is also a great deal of concern in the local community, and we appreciate people want to help.
‘However, parts of the riverbank are treacherous, and we would ask that nobody puts themselves in danger and that the police and partner agencies’ efforts to find Nicola are not compromised.’
Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30, or call 999 if they have an immediate sighting.
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