Traffic is an obstacle to most of us, one that causes delays and consternation. Yet to so many families across the North West, queues of vehicles are an opportunity for reunion.
Tom Nuttall stood with me on a roadside in Oldham and knew, with just a glance, that his missing brother Ciaron wasn’t in any of the cars at nearby traffic lights. “He’s not there - again”, says Tom, “like every other day.”
He’s perfected the ability to scan for Ciaron’s face, because he’s had to. The teenager vanished 754 days ago, and there’s no clue where he is. Tom explains he’s spent each of those days stopping random strangers who look like Ciaron. Each has looked puzzled at being halted, and explained they have a different name. The desired outcome couldn’t be more different: recognition, a hug, and a return home.
Ciaron’s mother, Ann Marie, has her own search method. She spends her days, and much of her nights, staring out of the window in the hope her son will walk by. Every noise causes her to turn, and check whether he’s sat on her garden bench.
“Sometimes I cry”, she tells me, “and I do a lot of praying... I just wanna get my arms around him and try and get back to normal”. Ann Marie’s prayers haven’t been answered yet, but she hopes Ciaron will read how much he’s missed and appear on that bench.
If you think you have seen Ciaron Nuttall, or want to get a message home to searching relatives, call the Missing People Helpline on 116 000. The call is free and confidential.