The heartbroken family of missing Northumberland woman Sally Allan have visited the last place that she was seen on CCTV and have admitted that they have given up hope of finding her alive.
The 59-year-old from Errington Road, Darras Hall, Ponteland, left her home sometime before 3am on Boxing Day. And yesterday, her concerned loved ones said that their worst fears may have come true.
Posting on the Search 4 Sally Facebook group at just after 10pm, her daughter Claire said: 'This morning, the family visited the Newcastle Quayside area by the Swing Bridge next to the River Tyne. It is the place that Sally was last seen on CCTV and the place where she finished her last walk with Gordon, her husband, before Christmas. We threw roses in the river and shared a tender moment of reflection about what she meant to us. Sally was a loving caring wife and mother who lit up the lives of everyone who knew her and we will always remember her. Whilst we were on the Quayside we met and spoke with officers from the Police Marine and Diving Unit. They outlined the detailed searches they will be doing over the coming days and spoke of their determination to bring our Sally home so we can say a proper goodbye.'
Claire thanked everyone who has helped in the search for Sally. Her statement on Facebook added: 'This Facebook group was set up to Search 4 Sally and it has demonstrated the power of social media to do this, achieving national media coverage. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people freely gave up their Christmas time with friends and family to search for her and for this we will always be eternally grateful. The community spirit shown to us was tremendous. In addition, the messages of love and support have touched our hearts and given us the strength to keep going during the most difficult of times.
'Given the group was set up to Search 4 Sally and given we have now accepted that she has almost certainly gone into the River Tyne, we feel the time is now right to close down the posting of new messages to the site. Speculation and criticism of others does not help anyone, however well intentioned. Another important factor is that with friends returning to work we do not have the resource to administer the site and we must allow ourselves the time and space to grieve and rebuild our strength. The group will continue to operate but only as a way for us to keep you updated on any major developments in the Search 4 Sally.
'We would however like to use the exposure Search 4 Sally has achieved to raise money to help improve awareness of mental health. We have chosen the national charity MIND; if Sally had accessed services such as these perhaps she would still be with us today. Should you wish to donate then please follow the link.
'Finally, we hope the most positive outcome to have come from this tragic situation is that you and others have thought more about how to love and care for your own loved ones. In this modern busy world it is only too easy to forget those that matter to us most.'
On New Year's Eve, police released CCTV footage of the last confirmed sighting of her, walking alongside the River Tyne at the rear of the Copthorne Hotel on Newcastle Quayside at around 6am on December 26. The camera loses sight of her as she approaches the Swing Bridge.