The mother of missing university chef Claudia Lawrence has said she is ‘more determined than ever’ to get justice for her daughter as she celebrated her 80th birthday.
Detectives believe Ms Lawrence – who lived in the Heworth area of York and worked at York University – was murdered, although no body has ever been found.
The 35 year-old was last seen on March 18, 2009.
Her mother, Joan Lawrence, said the only present she wants is news of her daughter – ‘even if it’s bad news’.
She said: ‘I can’t believe I’m 80, but it makes me more determined than ever to get justice for Claudia, and closure for myself.
‘I’m not one for material things. The only birthday present I want is news – even if it’s bad news. I find all these special days – birthdays and anniversaries – emotional and stressful.
‘But getting to 80 makes me more determined to keep going, because it feels like I’m running out of time, and I need the answer.’
This birthday is particularly painful for Joan, as the last milestone birthday she celebrated with Claudia was her 60th birthday.
She said: ‘It was a beautiful day. We had Pimm’s on the lawn and Claudia was really happy. She bought me a ring with the August birthstone, peridot.
‘I keep it safe because I’m scared of losing it. You can’t put a price on some things.’
Joan went on: ‘As hard as it’s been, I’m lucky to still have my health and my gorgeous grandchildren, so there’s a lot to be thankful for.
‘Despite the nightmares, what’s happened has also brought a lot of love my way, and that keeps me going. For however much time I’ve got left, I’ll never give up.’
Joan was diagnosed with alopecia four years ago, because of the stress of not knowing what’s happened to Claudia.
She now wears a wig to cover up her hair loss and receives two new wigs from the NHS every year.
Joan, of Heworth, North Yorkshire, said: ‘My message is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
‘I want to be open about it, and wear a wig with pride, because it’s important to remove the stigma.
‘Strangers stop me in the street and say how nice my hair looks. I know they’re being kind because they can see that it makes me feel good. There’s an awful lot of nice people, aren’t there?
‘So many ask how I am and tell me they’re thinking of Claudia. It helps so much to know that.
Claudia’s father, Peter, died in 2021 without knowing what happened to his daughter.
He had campaigned to get answers to the puzzle of her disappearance and spent years arguing for what became the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill – also known as Claudia’s Law – which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.
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