The children of a missing Northumberland woman have made an emotional plea for her to return home in time for Christmas.
Janis Hall was reported missing from her cottage in Catton, near Hexham, at around 10.40pm on Thursday and was last spoken to on the phone at around 3pm that afternoon.
A major search operation was launched but there was still no trace of the 65-year-old, four days after she disappeared.
Now, Mrs Hall’s two children, Ian and Gillian Hall, have told how their mother had been upset after the death of their father, six-months-ago.
In a statement, they said: “Our mother is a really bubbly, outgoing person who loves the outdoors. She loves to walk and she loves the countryside.
“She is well known in Catton, where she has lived for 15 years, and was involved in community life, even organising the Christmas Eve carol service as well as volunteering for local community groups.
“She worked as a volunteer at Wallington Hall, which is an example of how much she enjoys the countryside and the outdoors.
“We know she has been upset recently after our father died, six months ago, but this is out of character for her to go missing.
“We all expected her to return the next day, but the longer it goes on the more worried we become. She was due to come to Ian and Kate’s on Christmas Day, and they were going to her’s on Boxing Day.
“We can’t put into words how we feel at the moment, it’s the not knowing where she is or how she is and we are completely worried sick.
“We’d appeal for walkers, dog walkers, those using the countryside in the area to let police know straight away if they see her or if they may have seen her over recent days.
“We’d also ask for those living in the area to check their immediate vicinity, including sheds and outbuildings.
“And if she is watching we would ask her to please, mum, make contact with us just to let us know you are okay. We just want you home as soon as possible.”
As part of inquiries, police have been displaying posters in and around Catton village and extensive searches, involving specialist officers and the volunteer search and rescue team, were being carried out around the village and surrounding areas of Tynedale.
Mrs Hall’s neighbour Ann Potter was one of the last people to see her.
Mrs Potter said: “We’ve been friends since she moved here and we go walking together sometimes.
“She used to walk all over but recently she had not been too well, so she never ventured too far.
“She’s involved with the local church and the WI and she’s very friendly and popular.
“I was probably one the of the last people to see her. I saw her on Wednesday morning and we had a coffee and went for a walk up the lane together.
“She does like to keep fit and she used to do a lot of swimming too.
“I think the response of the police and the search and rescue team have been phenomenal. We have been amazed at the effort and how organised it has been. The community really pulled together too, with a lot of people round here offering support and to volunteer. It would be absolutely amazing if she could be home for Christmas.”
Mrs Hall, who is retired after working at the Newcastle Building Society in Hexham, is described as being 5ft 4ins tall of medium build, with grey short hair, and wearing glasses. She was also possibly wearing a green fleece coat, black trousers and a black fur Russian-style hat.
Northumberland Area Commander, Chief Supt Gordon Milward, added: “Mrs Hall is known to walk in the local area, as well as travel to Hexham and Allendale on the bus, and we’ve been searching in and around the local areas.
“Given the inclement weather conditions, the fact this is out of character for Mrs Hall, and the very rural area, we are extremely concerned for her welfare.
“The family are obviously beside themselves with worry, this is an incredibly difficult situation, and as the search enters its fourth day they are desperate to hear news of her whereabouts.
“If anyone has seen Mrs Hall or knows where she is, or who has information which they feel may help us to locate her, we would urge them to get in contact with police straight away.
“I’d urge anyone who is out and about over the Christmas period, walking in the local area, to be vigilant and report any sightings straight to police.”
Anyone with any information, is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 1124 19/12/13.