Bring Nikki Home: Friends of the missing mum hit back at ‘ludicrous’ social media criticism of her partner’s TV interviews and launch ‘final push’ to find her more than two weeks after she vanished without a trace
- Photo of Nicola against gold background shared by partner, sister and friend
- Emma White urged public to ‘turn Facebook yellow’ with the image
The family and friends of missing Nicola Bulley last night launched a ‘final push’ social media blitz under the slogan ‘Bring Nikki Home’.
Ms Bulley, 45, vanished while out walking her springer spaniel Willow along the River Wyre in Lancashire after dropping her two young daughters at school just over two weeks ago.
A photograph of Nicola against a gold background alongside two yellow hearts was shared online by her partner, sister and close friend Emma White, who insisted the ‘search is still ongoing for that vital piece of information to find Nikki’. She urged the public to ‘turn Facebook yellow’ with the image.
Another close family friend said: ‘Paul [Ansell, Nicola’s partner] and the rest of the family do not want the momentum to fade – so they are launching this new campaign to drive the message home that we still need to keep searching.
A photograph of Nicola against a gold background alongside two yellow hearts was shared online by her partner, sister and close friend Emma White
‘It’s a final push and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. Giving up hope is just not an option.’
Mr Ansell, 44, has said he is ‘100 per cent’ convinced that the missing mother did not fall into a river – though Lancashire Police believe the most likely theory is that she tumbled into the icy water and drowned.
Yesterday, as a new video emerged showing Nicola tobogganing with one of her daughters as Willow plays in the snow, friends hit back at ‘ludicrous’ social media criticism of Mr Ansell for apparently failing to show sufficient emotion during TV interviews and appeals. In one, he fleetingly smiled, drawing abuse from trolls.
But speaking to The Mail on Sunday, close friend Heather Gibbons insisted: ‘He didn’t show emotion because he didn’t want his girls to see him broken on national television.
‘His girls are the priority. When you have a multitude of cameras pointing at you, that’s nerve-racking enough. Then there’s the knowledge that the interview is going out across national television with people scrutinising you. Think how that must be for the poor guy.
‘When a TV interviewer asked me what Nikki is like, my first thought was to smile and that’s because when I think of Nikki she is so loving that it just makes me want to smile. But I daren’t even smile at good memories because I’m afraid someone will screenshot that moment, like they’ve done with Paul, and tear me apart.’
Paul Ansell, 44, has said he is ‘100 per cent’ convinced that the missing mother did not fall into a river – though Lancashire Police believe the most likely theory is that she tumbled into the icy water and drowned
Police search-and-rescue teams are still scouring the River Wyre several miles downstream from the village of St Michael’s on Wyre where Nicola vanished on the morning of Friday, January 27.
And the hunt has also extended to the Irish Sea. A dinghy with two officers on board was on the water in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, and an orange rescue boat has been sweeping the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the Wyre.
A former RNLI lifeboat commander, with vast experience of search-and-rescue operations, told The Mail on Sunday that Nicola’s body could still be in the river. ‘There are many reasons why the body could snag – it could get caught in an eddy and be held for hours for instance.
‘For this reason it is very difficult to estimate how long it would take to reach open sea. The activity we are seeing at the mouth of the river is known as “goalkeeping”. A team will deploy at a point at which it is thought the body has not yet reached and wait for it to appear. But there is so much uncertainty in something like this and the body could already have been missed.’
He added: ‘I know the authorities are doing everything they can but if the body is already at sea it might not be found for weeks or months. Or, quite frankly, it might never be found.’ In the absence of conclusive proof, or indeed any evidence, family and friends cling to hope that she will be found alive.
In her statement, Emma White said: ‘Thank you for all the kind words, prayers and thoughts to Nikki’s family and friends… What we do have is love and strength driven from the hope, please share the love and #BringNikkiHome – turn Facebook yellow!’
Yesterday a new video emerged showing Nicola tobogganing with one of her daughters as Willow plays in the snow
Friends hit back at ‘ludicrous’ social media criticism of Mr Ansell for apparently failing to show sufficient emotion during TV interviews and appeals. In one, he fleetingly smiled, drawing abuse from trolls
Last night, the yellow BringNikkiHome banner was copied and circulated by thousands of social media users.
Some of Nicola’s friends spoke of their concerns about half-term, which starts tomorrow, and how it might affect her daughters, aged six and nine, who have been attending school as normal since their mother’s disappearance. ‘School has been a distraction though they have been getting upset there too,’ said one friend.
In a TV interview with Channel 5 on Friday, Mr Ansell said: ‘The only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for Mummy.’ And Ms Gibbons added: ‘I have watched her little girls grow up and they need Mummy home.
‘They need her. Nikki’s family’s main focus is to find her, but they also have to protect those little girls and to keep things stable for them so they feel safe.’
Fellow school-run mum Nadia Fell, 39, also hit out at the torrent of ill-informed social media speculation. ‘I’m fed up with people on TikTok and their speculation and rumours of well you know, maybe she just had enough of life and now she’s gone. She just wouldn’t, not ever.
‘Those girls are Nikki’s absolute world and they came first over everything. She would not just go and leave them. I saw Nikki at school on that Friday morning, the morning she disappeared. I saw her going back to her car to get the dog. I’m still trying to come to terms with how things can change so quickly.’
Ms Fell’s youngest daughter and Nicola’s younger daughter are best friends and the two mums forged a friendship.
Ms Fell added: ‘Nikki is so lovely. She was one of those people at the centre of school life.’
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