'Our hearts are broken without you': Hundreds join Nicola Bulley vigil

'Our hearts are broken without you': Hundreds join Nicola Bulley vigil

February 24, 2023

‘Rest in peace Nikki’: Hundreds gather at candlelit vigil for Nicola Bulley in her home town and pay tribute to mother-of-two who ‘touched hearts in every possible way’

  • Mourners gathered in Ms Bulley’s old home of South Woodham Ferrers, Essex
  • Friends told of their devastation and said: ‘Our hearts are broken without you.’
  • The vigil came after Nicola’s body was found after a major three-week search 

Devastated friends of Nicola Bulley have staged a candlelight vigil in her hometown as they said: ‘Our hearts are broken without you, Nikki.’

A crowd of about 250 mourners gathered last night at the bandstand in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, where Ms Bulley grew up. 

The vigil was held four days after the 45-year-old was found dead in the River Wyre close to her home in Lancashire following a huge search lasting more than three weeks. 

Thursday’s tribute saw flowers being laid on the ground and candles lit in remembrance of the beloved mortgage advisor. 

The vigil was organised by family friends, Kerry Linehan and Debbie Nelson. Kerry said: ‘Nikki touched hearts in every possible way and will be terribly missed by everyone, but never forgotten.

More than 200 people gathered in South Woodham Ferrers, the Essex Town where Nicola Bulley grew up, to join a vigil. Pictured:  a young child watches as a woman lights a candle in honour of Ms Bulley 

Floral tributes were left at the bandstand as family friends of Ms Bulley said: ‘Our hearts are broken without you. A void will always be in our hearts, but her memory will live on’

Mother of two Nicola Bulley (pictured) was discovered on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire, more than three weeks after she disappeared 

‘The lights have dimmed in all our lives. She had the most infectious smile. Nicola, you had so many friends and everybody loves you.

‘Our hearts are broken without you. A void will always be in our hearts, but her memory will live on. Rest in peace, Nikki.’ 

READ MORE: Nicola Bulley’s sister shares poignant social media tribute to the mother-of-two as friends and former school ‘spread the love for Nikki’

Just around the corner in Hullbridge Road, a local artist and family friend Danny Bench completed a stunning 6ft mural of Nicola on the wall next to the One Stop store in South Woodham Ferrers.

The mural was created by street artist Danny Bench, 48, who went to William de Ferrers School with Nicola and was friends with her sister Louise Cunningham.

He got Louise’s approval after sending her a mock-up of his proposed painting.

Danny who runs his own business Murals by Danny Bench did the bulk of the painting over four hours on Wednesday.

Describing how he had the approval of Nicola’s sister, he said: ‘I didn’t want to do it off my own back so I messaged her and said I want to do a piece for Nicola and she said, ‘I’d love that’.’

He told the Mirror he was lying in bed late on Monday night when he decided he had to do something to mark Nicola’s death.

He said: ‘I finished it just before the school run and it went a bit crazy with everyone stopping and taking pictures and putting flowers down.

A huge mural memorial to Ms Bulley was unveiled this week in her old home town, on the wall beside the One Stop store in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex

The tribute was painted by street artist Danny Bench (pictured) who is a friend of Nicola’s sister, Louise Cunningham 

Mr Bench was given permission by Nicola’s sister Louise to paint the tribute to the 45-year-old and said: ‘When I heard about Nicola, I thought I’ve got to do something’

‘It was really nice for people to stop and see it.’

Danny who now lives in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, found a love for street art while still at school, and has previously had commissions from Liverpool FC and Red Bull.

He added: ‘When I heard about Nicola, I thought I’ve got to do something.

‘That’s the ideal wall to do it because it’s in her home town, it’s on a main road, on a T-junction so you can see it.

‘Everybody can see it, everybody can appreciate it. I just had to do it.’

As the Thursday’s vigil, onlookers gathered in silence around a large picture of Nicola on an easel, decorated with flowers and surrounded by candles.  

At the vigil on Thursday, flowers and tributes were left around an easel with Ms Bulley’s picture on 

Mourners came together in silence to honour the mother of two, who moved from Essex to Lancashire with her family before she died

Nicola’s friend, Kerry, said South Woodham Ferrers was a ‘very close-knit community’. Pictured are mourners lighting candles in memory of Ms Bulley 

‘South Woodham Ferrers is a very close-knit community. When unfortunately tragic events happen everyone kind of pulls together,’ said Kerry, who is friend with Ms Bulley’s sister Louise.

‘There’s a lot of people that still live in the community who know Nicola or her sister Louise. The family is well known and even though they moved up north, they still hold a massive piece of all of our hearts.

READ MORE: Third probe is launched over Lancashire Police’s handling of Nicola Bulley’s disappearance and decision to release her personal details 

‘When Nicola went missing, we all felt so helpless being down south, but we all remained beside the family.

‘For support, we will do whatever we can and this is our way of coming together to show our love and respect.

‘I suggested maybe we should all meet together to pay our respects and Debbie said she’d help me do it if I could organise it.’

Reverend Adrian Ward spoke during the tribute while 15-year-old Lily, a pupil at William de Ferrers School, where Nicola also attended, created a floral tribute.

‘The truth is that none of us want to be here tonight,’ Rev Ward said. ‘We would have preferred it if Nicola had not gone missing. We would all prefer it if she was with her family who loved her.

‘But as the news came through this week, we had to face the reality that she had died.

‘Now South Woodham Ferrers as a community has gathered together to pay tribute for the life of Nicola Bulley.’

Rev Ward led prayers asking for Nicola’s grieving partner Paul Ansell, her two daughters, parents Ernest and Dot, and her sister Louise to receive ‘light in the darkness and hope in their sadness’.

During the service of remembrances in her old home town, people prayed for Ms Bulley’s family and her partner Paul Ansell (pictured, right, with Nicola)

Reverend Adrian Ward is pictured leading the service of remembrance from the bandstand on Thursday evening 

Nicola vanished on January 27 while walking her dog Willow in St Michael’s on Wyre, having dropped off her two girls at the village school earlier in the morning. 

Describing how St Michael’s on Wyre was 266 miles from her Essex hometown, Rev Ward told mourners: ‘Today you have shown that love, friendship and compassion cannot be separated by any kind of distance or time.’

The tribute comes after Ms Bulley was hailed as the ‘type of mum everyone wanted to be’ by her devastated friend and neighbour, Charlotte Drake. 

‘Nikki, There are no words to express or understand what has happened,’ she said. ‘No emotions deep enough for any of us to feel.

‘As I said last week ‘You truly are the type of mum everyone wanted to be’ and I will always continue to strive to be like that.’ 

Paul Ansell pictured with his partner Nicola, 45, who vanished on January 27 and was found more than three weeks later, dead in the River Wyre, Lancashire 

On Wednesday it was revealed Nicola’s body was identified by dental records.   

An inquest into her death was opened at Preston Coroner’s Court on Thursday, with Ms Bulley’s family choosing not to attend.    

The court heard how surgeon Andrew Ian Edwards had examined her dental records, which had been obtained by police from a previous surgery.

Senior coroner Dr James Adeley said: ‘He examined the body that was located in the River Wyre near Rawcliffe Road in St Michael’s on Wyre at 2.15pm on February 20.’

Dr Adeley said the surgeon found restorative work carried out was identical.

He added: ‘I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities, and more, that positive identification has been made.’

The five-minute hearing did not determine the cause of her death.

A full inquest is expected to take place in June. 

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