March 4. 2024. 8:02

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Nicola Bulley’s partner: ‘My gut instinct has always been she’s not in the river’

The partner of missing mother of two Nicola Bulley says it has always been his “gut instinct” that she is not in the river.

Ms Bulley vanished while walking her springer spaniel dog Willow alongside the river Wyre in the Lancashire village of St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27th.

Speaking to 5 News presenter Dan Walker, Paul Ansell said he wants to keep “all options open” about her disappearance.

Mr Ansell said: “We’ve always been very careful that we don’t want to say, ‘oh, we think it’s that’, and then push that when it might not be.

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“The most obvious thing, of course, has always been the river. It’s always been my gut instinct and [that of] her sisters and family, that that isn’t the case.

“Extensive searching, as you know, has gone on in that river.”

Ms Bulley had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school and was on her usual walk when she disappeared, her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage adviser – was found on a bench overlooking the river.

Despite a huge search of the river and surrounding countryside by Lancashire Police, no trace of her has been found.

Speaking about his partner, Mr Ansell went on: “She is fun. She is loving. If you’re friends with her, she’s the most loyal friend that you could ever have.

“With Nikki, what you see is what you get. There’s no hidden, nothing’s hidden.

“You know, it’s all. That’s, that’s her. And she is an exceptional mum and she absolutely adores our girls. And goes above and beyond.”

He added: “She’s just a pillar of strength to our family and without her, the hole is bigger than you can possibly imagine.”

Police have discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person inquiry, believing that Ms Bulley has fallen into the water.

[ Nicola Bulley: police issue dispersal notices after social media speculation ]

But police maintain they are keeping an “open mind” and have been appealing for information.

Focus of the police search on Thursday switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with police patrol boats and rescue boats spotted on the river and in the bay.

Mr Ansell said the family was going through “unprecedented hell”.

“But that hope and that positivity in me is stronger than ever, and I’m never, ever going to let go,” he said.

“Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn’t give up on anybody. And we’re not going to ever give up on her, we’re going to find her.”

Talking about his children, Mr Ansell went on: “The only thing, the only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for mummy.

“The best people 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.”

Asked how he feels about the situation, Mr Ansell added: “Anger, loads of frustration, confusion, disbelief, surrealism, nothing feels real.”

He continued “It just doesn’t feel real ... I feel like I’m in The Truman Show. I honestly believe I’m going to wake up at any moment ... how are we even in this? We are good people.”