The partner of missing mum Nicola Bulley has told Dan Walker that he is 100% convinced she is not in the river. Speaking exclusively to Channel 5 for an extended programme that goes out on Friday night, Paul Ansell also speaks about the heartbreak of telling his daughters that the best people in the world are looking for their mummy.
He also pledged to never give up the search that has now entered its second week. Nicola was last seen walking their dog Willow on the banks of the River Wyre in Lancashire on the morning of Friday, January 27.
Speaking to 5 News presenter Dan Walker, as part of a 75-minute special programme, ‘Vanished: What happened to Nicola Bulley?’ , Mr Ansell said: “What we’re going through now is like unprecedented hell. But that hope and that positivity in me is stronger than ever, and I’m never, ever going to let go.
“Nicky 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.”
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On Friday, police searches continued along the river and out to Morecombe Bay, but a specialist diver who was brought in by the family earlier this week left after fining nothing. Peter Faulding said he believed Nicola was not in the river.
Paul says: “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.
“Personally, I am 100 per cent convinced it’s not the river, that’s my opinion. Because people don’t just vanish into thin air, it’s absolutely impossible. So something has happened. Something has happened. Find out what it is. Find out what it is. 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.
He added that he “cannot fault” the police, and says they have been “incredible” and described the relationship with them as still “very, very strong”.
On Friday morning, local friends held a roadside vigil for Nicola, carrying missing posters in the hope it would job someone’s memory. Friends have described the strain on the family, and Paul talks about the difficulties of looking after their daughters, aged six and nine.
He tells Dan: “What any parent knows you know, that all you wanna to do is make everything better for your children isn’t it… and I can’t you know, I can’t do that…
“The only thing, the only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for mummy. The best people like, 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.”
He describes his own emotions as those of “anger, frustration, confusion and disbelief”.
“It just doesn’t feel real… I feel like I’m in the Truman show. Like.. I honestly believe I’m going to wake up at any moment…how are we even in this? We are good people,” he says.
The focus of the police search has now shifted from where Ms Bulley vanished to further downstream, towards where the River Wyre empties into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.
A dinghy with two officers on board could be seen on the water on Thursday, while an orange rescue boat was also spotted appearing to do sweeps of the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the bay, around 10 miles from where the mortgage adviser’s phone was found on a bench, still connected to a work call.
* Watch the full interview on Channel 5 at 9pm this evening as part of ‘Vanished: What happened to Nicola Bulley?’ an ITN Productions exclusive.