Partner of missing dog walker living in 'perpetual hell' as daughters wait for 'mummy's' return

  • A video report by Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney

The partner of a mother who disappeared while walking her dog say they are living in "perpetual hell" as they wait for news.

Nicola Bulley, 45, went missing shortly after doing the school run with her two girls aged nine and six in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

Her mobile phone - which was still connected to a conference call - was later found by a member of the public on a bench near to where she was last seen on a towpath by the River Wyre.

Her springer spaniel Willow was also found loose between the river and bench.

Nicola's partner Paul Ansell, speaking from the family home in Inskip, Lancashire, said he spent all of Sunday searching for the mother-of-two.

The engineer, who has been in a relationship with Nicola for 12 years, said: “It is just perpetual hell. It is just utter disbelief.

“We are living through this but it doesn’t feel real.

“All we can say is we need to find her. She’s got two little girls that need their mummy home.

“We have got to get some good news now.”

Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Police said the investigation remained a missing person inquiry Credit: Peter Byrne PA

Paul said he or his partner, also known as Nikki, would drop the children off at a local primary school before taking Willow for a walk along the river nearby.

Police say Nicola did the school run before heading for the dog walk on Friday.

“I got a call from the school regarding somebody who had found Willow, and Nikki’s phone and the dog lead and harness on the bench,” Paul, who then called the police, said.

“We take the kids to school and take the dog down there - either myself or Nikki - nearly every day.”

Nicola, a mortgage adviser, has lived in Lancashire for 25 years but is originally from near Chelmsford, Essex, and has a southern accent.

She was last seen by a member of the public at about 9.15am, police said.

Officers said they are keeping an “open mind” about what happened but do not believe Nicola was attacked.

Police searching for missing woman Nicola Bulley, 45, from Inskip, last seen walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre. Credit: PA Images

Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Police told a press conference that fears for Ms Bulley are growing as time passes.

She said: “The police are keeping a really open mind about what could have happened but we do believe that the likelihood is that Nicola has gone missing and this is not a crime inquiry.

“We’ve mounted a really intensive operation to try to find Nicola.

“We’ve got a large area to search.

“People do go missing but clearly as time goes on we become more and more concerned for Nicola.

“But we’re very much hoping that we will find something to try to bring her home safe and well soon.

“We appeal for anyone who may have been driving through the village of St Michael’s last Friday morning at about 9.15am or who may have dashcam footage that could be of use to us, or people who may have been dog-walking in the area or on the tow path, to come forward.

“They can ring 101 or, if they have a sighting of Nicola, 999.”

Specialist search officers drive a boat along the River Wyre where Lancashire Police are searching for missing woman Nicola Bulley Credit: Peter Byrne PA

Ms Bulley is described as white, 5ft3in, with light brown shoulder-length hair.

At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellington boots.

Her hair was in a ponytail.

Searches have been carried out by Lancashire Police, using a helicopter, drones and dogs with support from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team and the North West Underwater Search Team.

Locals have also organised searches in the area.

Anybody with information can call 101, quoting log 473 of January 27, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.