The family of missing Sally Allan have said they are feeling 'great sorrow, but relief', after a woman's body has been found in the River Tyne.
This morning, police searching for the 59-year-old from Ponteland, said that a body had been discovered near Riverside Quay at Tynedock West in South Shields at 1.07pm yesterday. It has been recovered from the water and inquiries are being carried out to identify the woman.
Following the news, the family have this morning issued a statement on the Search 4 Sally Facebook group. It says: 'The body has not yet been formally identified as Sally but the police and ourselves believe there is strong evidence that it is her. The relevant authorities are now working to confirm beyond any doubt that the body recovered is Sally. There is great sorrow with this news, but also relief that the police have hopefully found Sally and the family will now have the opportunity to give her a proper farewell.
'We would like to thank the police marine and diving unit who have worked tirelessly for the past five weeks to find Sally. Diving in the river is difficult and dangerous work and river conditions during this period have at times been a challenge. At the start of January officers from the marine unit told us they were determined to find Sally and their dedication and commitment looks like it has now brought the family closure.'
Sally left her home in Errington Road, Darras Hall, Ponteland, in the early hours of Boxing Day. CCTV footage of the last confirmed sighting of her showed her walking alongside the River Tyne near the Copthorne Hotel at around 7.15am on the same day. The camera loses sight of her as she approaches the Swing Bridge. Last month, the family admitted they had lost hope of Sally being found alive and on January 10, hundreds of people joined husband Gordon Allan and their children David, Clive and Claire for a poignant ceremony to lay flowers at the Quayside.
Following Sally's disappearance, the family set up an online fund-raising page to raise money for mental health charity Mind. More than £15,000 has been donated so far.
Today's statement from the family added: 'On a positive note we continue to be amazed by the generosity and kindness of everyone who has donated to our JustGiving page. Together we have raised over £15,000 for the national mental health charity Mind and we thank every one of you that has given to such an important cause. Half of the funds raised will be used locally by the Tyneside and Northumberland branch of Mind.
'We would also like to take this opportunity to make you aware that on Saturday between 10am and 3pm at the Monument in Newcastle there is a Mental Health Day. A number of local and national mental health organisations and charities will be there handing out information and advice on what we can all do to improve the mental health of our family and friends. Time to Change will be there with details of how we can all end mental health discrimination and start a simple conversation on the subject with family and friends. Time to Change is a campaign organisation established by the leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to end the stigma of mental health.'