Nicola Bulley: What has her partner Paul Ansell said since she disappeared?
Paul Ansell says he won't give up searching for the missing mum-of-two because 'she would never give up on us'
Nicola Bulley has been missing for three weeks, after disappearing during a dog walk in St.Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on 27 January.
The 45-year-old mortgage adviser was last seen walking her dog, Willow, at around 9.10am, with her phone and the dog’s harness found by a passerby on a bench at 9.33am - with Willow nearby but no sign of Bulley.
Her partner, Paul Ansell, has repeatedly appealed to the public for help to bring home the “exceptional mum” who “absolutely adores our girls”. Three weeks into the investigation, Ansell said he “will never give up searching for his love".
In his first statement, made a week after Bulley’s disappearance, Ansell told Sky News: “It's a week on as yet it seems like we are no further on. It just seems impossible, like a dream.
"I can't get my head around any of it. Every single scenario comes to a brick wall and all we're doing is going round and round and round and back to the first scenario again."
He later told Channel 5 in a sit-down interview that he first discovered something was wrong after getting a phone call from his children’s school.
"I was going to leave and the phone rang and it was the school and it was the receptionist at school. She said 'Mr Ansell it's a bit of a weird one but we have found Willow and Nikki's phone on the bench and the harness halfway down the embankment on the floor,” Ansell told Channel 5’s Dan Walker.
"Then I got that call and in an instant it is like your whole… because I knew straight away it wasn't normal, I said 'where is she?' and they said they couldn't find her."
He added: "It's like your world drops out because you know something weird has happened."
Ten days after Bulley’s disappearance, Ansell thanked the police and wider community for their support, also sharing how his daughters were coping without their mum.
“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,” he said.
"We are also really grateful to Peter and his team from SGI for coming up and helping support the work of Lancashire Police as they continue their investigation."
Weeks into the investigation
Ansell has long maintained he does not believe Bulley fell into the River Wyre, which has been the police’s main theory since the disappearance, despite searches of the river yielding no results.
And as the search continues, Ansell said he had not lost hope of finding his partner.
"That hope and that positivity in me is stronger than ever, and I'm never, ever going to let go,” he told Channel 5. “Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn't give up on anybody. And we're not gonna ever give up on her like, we're going to find her."
Nicola Bulley investigation: all the latest developments:
Nicola Bulley's reputation 'destroyed' by police, says ex-detective (Sky News)
A minute-by-minute look at the crucial 24 hours when Nicola Bulley vanished (The Telegraph)
‘My brother went missing in same place as Nicola Bulley – exactly 45 years before’ (The Independent)
"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..."
Although Lancashire Police do not currently believe that a third party is involved in the disappearance, Ansell urged them to step-up the land and houses in the area surrounding St.Michael’s on Wyre.
"My plea now, is personally, I want every house, every garage, every outbuilding, the land, scrutinised,” he said. "I want it all searched, I want it all scrutinised, every piece of it."
Following police revelations about Bulley suffering with alcohol and menopause prior to her disappearance, her family released a statement on Thursday via Lancashire Police.
"It has now been three weeks since Nikki went missing. We, as a family, believe that the public focus has become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life," the statement said.
“As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire Police, last night, released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki. Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop. The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her."
The family also expanded on the police's comments about Bukley's struggles with menopause, stating: "Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her, but only ended up causing this crisis. The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life."
“Despite what some media outlets and individuals are suggesting, we are being updated daily and receive support from our family liaison officers. Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives," the statement added.
“Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home. You can reach out to us, or you can contact MissingPeople.org.uk. Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.”