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Nicola Bulley's partner says family will ‘never give up' hope of finding her

Paul Ansell partner of Nicola Bulley, shakes hands with Peter Faulding, the underwater search expert called in to help with the search in the River Wyre (Pat Hurst/PA)
PA Reporters

The partner of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has said he will never give up hope of finding her.

Ms Bulley vanished while walking her springer spaniel dog Willow, alongside the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre on January 27.

Speaking to 5 News presenter Dan Walker, Paul Ansell said the family was going through “unprecedented hell”.

“But that hope and that positivity in me is stronger than ever, and I'm never, ever going to let go,” he said.

“Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn't give up on anybody. And we're not going to ever give up on her, we're going to find her.”

He added: “There has to be a way to find out what happened, there has to be. You cannot, you cannot walk your dog down a river and just vanish into thin air. Something happened that day, something…”

Ms Bulley had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school and was on her usual walk when she disappeared, her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage advisor – was found on a bench overlooking the river.

Despite a huge search of the river and surrounding countryside by Lancashire Police, no trace of her has been found.

Speaking about this, Mr Ansell said: “Extensive searching, you know, as you're probably aware, has gone on in that river.

“The fact that the divers and underwater rescue team and all that were in that river on the day, and thankfully found absolutely nothing, in the part where you would have to presume is her last known location.”

He went on: “Personally, I am 100% convinced it's not the river, that's my opinion.”

Police have discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person enquiry, believing that Ms Bulley has fallen into the water.

But police say they are still keeping an “open mind” and have been appealing for information.

Focus of the police search on Thursday switched from St Michael's to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with police patrol boats and rescue boats spotted on the river and in the bay.

Talking about his children, Mr Ansell went on: “The only thing, the only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for mummy.

“The best people in the world are looking for mummy – just to give them that, you know, that level of hope that they can understand that everything that can be done to find mummy, is being done.”

Asked how he feels about the situation, Mr Ansell added::“Anger, loads of frustration, confusion, disbelief, surrealism, nothing feels real.”

He continued “It just doesn't feel real… I feel like I'm in the Truman show. I honestly believe I'm going to wake up at any moment… how are we even in this? We are good people.”

Vanished: What Happened To Nicola Bulley?, by ITN Productions, will air on Channel 5 at 9pm on Friday.