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Corrie McKeague’s mother speaks of ‘toughest ever month’ as family support each other on missing RAF man’s birthday 12 months since disappearance

PUBLISHED: 10:19 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:29 18 September 2017

Nicola Urquhart, mother of Corrie McKeague. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN.

Nicola Urquhart, mother of Corrie McKeague. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN.

Sarah Lucy brown

The mother of missing serviceman Corrie McKeague has spoken about facing her son’s 24th birthday without him, as the family face their “toughest” month since he disappeared.

CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague CCTV footage of Corrie McKeague

Nicola Urquhart last saw her son Corrie after coming down from Scotland to Suffolk to celebrate his birthday a year ago today – just a week later, on September 24, he disappeared from the centre of Bury St Edmunds after a night out.

For Mrs Urquhart and Corrie’s brothers, Darroch and Makeyan, September will be a month of painful anniversaries and yet more agonising waiting.

“It has been nearly a year,” said Mrs Urquhart, a police officer in Scotland. “But we know no more than we knew a week after we first got that call saying he was missing.”

The Suffolk police investigation into Corrie’s disappearance has cost upwards of £1.2million and involved thousands of man hours – but despite this, no evidence of where the RAF Honington serviceman is has been unearthed.

The search operation for missing airman Corrie McKeague at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN The search operation for missing airman Corrie McKeague at the Milton Landfill site in Cambridgeshire. Pictures: GREGG BROWN

“Everything the police investigation has done has been based on a lack of evidence and information,” Mrs Urquhart said. “There is a complete lack of evidence and that is incredibly frustrating.

“We don’t know he is in the landfill, just like the police never really knew he had tried to walk home. All we know is that Corrie walked into that dead end, the horseshoe area, and he is never seen coming out again.

“We need more information, we need someone to come forward with any new line of inquiry that the police can investigate.”

Speaking to this newspaper, Mrs Urquhart told of the last time she saw Corrie – spending a few “brilliant” days with him, including hiring a boat on The Broads, to celebrate his 23rd birthday.

Missing airman Corrie McKeague Missing airman Corrie McKeague

“As a family we will spend his birthday with each other,” she said. “It is going to be a really tough time and we will be supporting each other.”

On the anniversary of Corrie’s disappearance, Mrs Urquhart, her brother Tony Wringe and sons Darroch and Makeyan will be in Bury, retracing his last steps and hoping to jog someone’s memory.

Mrs Urquhart said: “It has been a year and we know nothing more – as a mother and as a family this is so hard. We have our tough days but this month is going to be toughest yet.”

An independent review into the police search started last month, triggered after the 20-week Cambridgeshire landfill search for Corrie was called off with no sign of Corrie.

At the end of this month the first stage of the review will make recommendations to Suffolk police on the landfill search. This could see the search restart.

After this, a review of the entire investigation, from the early searches and decision not to do full door-to-door enquires, to the landfill search, will start.

Mrs Urquhart said the waiting is particularly hard for the family. “We have been waiting every week – waiting for a phone call, waiting for anything new,” she said.

Mrs Urquhart said she has issues with several aspects of the investigation, but added that she truly believes Suffolk police want to do everything they can to find her son.

“I know that this lack of evidence, this lack of progress, is hurting the police as well – they want to find him,” she said.

The case of Corrie’s disappearance has seen unprecedented levels of public interest, with nearly 130,000 joining the Find Corrie Facebook page managed by the family.

“We have a lot of support from so many people,” Mrs Urquhart said. “We are so thankful for the help we have been given, we don’t know how we would have done this without them.”

One of the supporters is Suffolk multimillionaire Colin Davey, who has recently reinstated a £50,000 reward for any information leading to Corrie’s discovery.

Mrs Urquhart said: “Colin has done so much for us and the boys. That man has been incredible for us, I can’t put it into words.”

The family are hoping the reward and their efforts on the anniversary of his disappearance will lead to a new line of inquiry for police to follow.

Corrie, from Dunfermline, in Fife, Scotland, was posted to RAF Honington, ten miles north, nearly four years ago, in October 2013. In January 2017, April Oliver, 21, from Norfolk, emerged as the girlfriend of Corrie, giving birth to his daughter in June.

If you have any information regarding Corrie please phone Suffolk police on 01473 782019 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111

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