Vigil held for Nicola Bulley while friends face 'agonising wait' for news

Nicola Bulley’s close friend has said ‘the unknown is unbearable’ two weeks after she vanished.

Ms Bulley’s family today gathered at St Michael’s Church on the banks of the River Wyre in Lancashire, just a few hundred yards from where she vanished two weeks ago.

A photo of Ms Bulley smiling with her partner Paul Ansell was displayed at the altar.

Heather Gibbons, a family friend who attended the vigil, said: ‘It’s an agonising wait, it’s almost a hell above hell, because the unknown is unbearable.’

She described how locals opened the church doors at 10am to give people the ‘chance to come… collect their thoughts [and]… be together’.

‘It’s not a vigil in that we’ve lost hope, it’s almost trying to create that moment of hope for everybody to keep supporting one another’, said she added.

Fraught friends gathered for yet another roadside appeal on holding signs pleading ‘to bring Nikki home’.

They are urging people to come forward with more information, while some want police to search a nearby ‘abandoned house’.

Ms Bulley, 45, went missing on January 27 after dropping her two children – aged six and nine – off at school and taking their spaniel for a walk.

She was last seen wearing a black coat, black jeans and ankle-length green wellies, with her hair tied up in a ponytail.

A witness has said they saw a ‘shabby’ red van close to where the mother of two disappeared.

Lancashire Police have said their current working hypothesis is that Ms Bulley fell into the river.

But Ms Gibbons said the lack of clarity about the 45-year-old’s disappearance was inflicting a huge toll on her loved ones.

‘The family are on the worst rollercoaster of their lives, they are still holding on to hope, that there’s a chance we will get Nikki home safe,’ she said.

‘They have the same thinking that nothing is making sense. They are just desperate for some evidence that will pinpoint exactly what has happened.’

On the morning of her disappearance, Ms Bulley followed her usual routine, dropping her two daughters off at school and taking springer spaniel Willow for a walk along the river bank.

Her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage advisor – was found on a bench overlooking the river Wyre, along with the dog who was darting between the two.

There has been no trace of her since, despite an extensive search of the river and surrounding countryside by officers.

They have since switched from scouring St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river meets the sea at Morecambe Bay.

Police boats have been sighted travelling up and down local waterways.

Lancashire police believe that Ms Bulley fell into the water and are discounting something malicious, though it still has an ‘open mind’ about what happened.

Members of the public are being asked to come forward with any information that could help the enquiry.

‘[Police] are encouraging everyone to keep open-minded, the words were, they have not got their blinkers on,’ added Ms Gibbons.

‘We are hopeful, we’re still holding on to hope.’

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