The partner of Nicola Bulley has said that he has “no words right now, just agony” after police found a body in the search for the missing mum.
Paul Ansell said it was as though she had “vanished into thin air”, adding “I don’t know how I am coping” and that he was “just focused” on the couple’s daughters.
The 45-year-old mortgage advisor went missing on 27 January whilst walking her dog on a path by the River Wyre in the Lancashire village of St Michael’s on Wyre. On 19 February, Lancashire Police announced they had found a body about a mile away from where Nicola was last seen.
Police are currently identifying it, leaving Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell and her daughters with an agonising wait. Paul previously said it was as though she had “vanished into thin air”, adding “I don’t know how I am coping” and that he was “just focused” on the couple’s daughters.
Does Nicola Bulley have a husband and what did her partner say in the Sky News interview? Here’s everything you need to know.
Does Nicola Bulley have a husband?
Bulley was briefly married to local Lancashire businessman Simon Booth, it is reported. Booth is now engaged to Jodie Prenger, who plays Glenda Shuttleworth in Coronation Street.
She is not currently married, but has been in a relationship with engineer Paul Ansell for 12 years, with the couple sharing two daughters aged nine and six. The couple love to post photos on social media of walks in the countryside and holidays with their children.
What did partner Paul Ansell say?
Upon hearing the news that a body had been found, Mr Ansell said: “No words right now, just agony. We’re all together, we have to be strong.”
In an interview with Sky News previously, Mr Ansell shared that it was as though Bulley had “vanished into thin air”. He said: “Every single scenario comes to a brick wall. Every single one of them. All we are doing is sitting there going round and round and round through each scenario. All we are doing is sitting there going round and round and round through each scenario.” He continued: “We’re never, ever going to lose hope, of course we’re not, but it is as though she has vanished into thin air. It’s just insane.”
The 45-year-old engineer thanked the local community for their “amazing” support, adding that it had given the family “a great amount of comfort”. He explained: “I don’t know how I am coping. I don’t want to think about that. I am just focused on the girls.”
In a statement released on 6 February via Lancashire Police, Mr Ansell said: “It’s been 10 days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back. This has been such a tough time for the girls especially but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends, as well as the wider community and I want to thank them for their love and support.” He also thanked officers for their support during the difficult period. Mr Ansell added that he urged anyone with information to get in touch to “help us provide the answers we all so badly need.”
On 8 February, Mr Ansell visited the site where Nicola went missing with underwater search expert Peter Faulding, who took him through aspects of the search.
In an interview with Channel 5 News on 10 February, Mr Ansell said that he wants to keep “all options open”. He told presenter Dan Walker: “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. The most obvious thing, of course has always been the river. It’s always been my gut instinct and her sisters, and family that, that isn’t the case. Extensive searching, as you know is probably well 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.”
Mr Ansell continued: “Personally, I am 100% convinced it’s not the river, that’s my opinion. It’s a local area. We’ve walked down there for years, and I mean years. You see the same faces every single day. And on the very odd occasion when you see somebody you don’t know, they stand out like a sore thumb.”
He added: “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. 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…”
Mr Ansell appealed for anyone with information to come forward he said: “Please anything. No matter how tiny, Just please come forward with it because that could be the key to finding her and the family, we’re not bothered about anything else. There’s nothing else, we just have to find her.”
What have police said about Nicola Bulley’s ‘vulnerabilities’?
Lancashire Police have said that Nicola had “some vulnerabilities at the time she went missing” which had caused challenges for Paul and their family.
The force said: “Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months. This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.
“As a result of those issues, a response car staffed by both police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home address on January 10th. No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated.
“It is an unusual step for us to take to go into this level of detail about someone’s private life, but we felt it was important to clarify what we meant when we talked about vulnerabilities to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation.
“We have explained to Nicola’s family why we have released this further information and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.”
What happened to Nicola Bulley?
Nicola went missing on 27 January after taking her dog for a walk on a path by the River Wyre in the Lancashire village of St Michael’s on Wyre. She had just dropped her daughters off at school and logged into a work Teams call.
The last confirmed sighting of her was at 9.10 am, police were contacted about her disappearance after her spaniel, Willow was found running loose. Nicola’s phone was discovered on a bench at 9.35 am still logged into the work call. On 19 February, Lancashire Police announced they had found a body in the search for Nicola Bulley.
What have the police said?
On Friday 3 February, Lancashire Police investigating the disappearance announced they believed the mother-of-two had fallen into the River Wyre whilst walking her dog. They stated their “main working hypothesis” is that Nicola fell into the river and that “this is not suspicious but a tragic case of a missing person”.
Addressing the police theory on Facebook, Cunningham urged people to carry on the search for her sister and “keep an open mind”. She said: “Off the back of the latest Police media update, please can I add there is no evidence whatsoever that she has gone into the river, it’s just a theory.”
Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), has said if his team does not find Nicola in the water using his sonar equipment, then he believes she has not been in the river and raised “third party” involvement in the disappearance.