Missing Nicola Bulley's daughters attend clubs and a sleepover in bid to keep ... trends now
Everyone was trying their best yesterday to keep things as normal as possible for missing Nicola Bulley's young daughters. Friends rallied, taking the nine-year-old and six-year-old to their usual Saturday morning clubs following a sleepover.
'It's to try to retain a sense of routine,' says a friend, whose children attend the same school in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire. 'To take their minds off…' Her words trail away. Contemplating, even fleetingly, the girls' emotional state is impossible.
At lunchtime the girls are returned by the mother of school friends to their father, Paul Ansell. The 44-year-old gets out of his car and the girls run to him, flinging their arms round his neck.
Sleepovers, sport, hanging out with Dad.
Trying to keep things normal. Any parent would do the same.
Nicola Bulley, 45, disappeared after dropping her two daughters off at school on January 27
Meanwhile, divers, dogs and drones are scouring the area around the River Wyre. A police helicopter hovers low overhead with a clatter-clatter redolent of a war film's soundtrack.
And how to answer the children's all-too-easily imagined questions? All the family can do, say friends, is to somehow mask their own pain and stay strong for them. In this, to their enormous credit, they are succeeding.
Surrendering hope is not an option for Mr Ansell, Nicola's parents, the rest of her family and her army of friends.
The police might be pessimistic but not this irrepressible band. For loved ones in such a situation, grasping the tiniest slither of hope is natural, however irrational it may occasionally seem.