A prayer for Claudia, three years on

Peter Lawrence remains hopeful that his daughter is still alive. He says not knowing is 'the worst'

Peter Lawrence is living in limbo. He is no closer to finding out what happened to his daughter, Claudia, than he was when she vanished three years ago today.

The 35-year-old chef was last heard from on 18 March 2009 when she made plans to see family and friends. She has not been seen since. Her disappearance sparked one of the biggest investigations ever carried out by North Yorkshire Police.

One way Claudia's 65-year-old father has dealt with her disappearance is to throw himself into his work. Another was to move to York a few months ago. He now lives a mile from Claudia's house in Heworth, on the city's outskirts.

Today the quietly spoken solicitor will go to York Minister where he will say a prayer for her. If the weather is good he plans to go for a walk, before phoning his other daughter, Ali.

And this week he will visit Claudia's house. "It's something that has to be done. I just stay there long enough to see that everything's secure and that there's no water coming through the roof, that's it."

Mr Lawrence admits that lobbying for guardianship rights for families of missing people has helped him cope with Claudia's disappearance. "I hadn't actually thought about that, but I expect it probably has helped."

Yesterday he spoke at a 10km charity run in London's Regent's Park where he thanked people for supporting the Missing Rights Campaign.

But he is struggling to deal with his own situation. "It doesn't get any easier. It's the not knowing what's happened that's the worst. I've never believed that time is a healer." Claudia is on his mind "every day, walking down the street, driving in the car, I suppose the only time I don't think about her is when I'm working. Work has helped me cope with this."

Although it is "still painful" to talk about her, he is determined to keep his daughter's name from being forgotten. "As long as it's still out in the public mind, one day somebody will say something."

Mr Lawrence is convinced his daughter was abducted: "I think she was picked up and taken by somebody. She left everything behind and she would never be seen out of the house without handbag and jewellery."

He holds on to the hope that "whoever it is out there that knows about it suddenly has a conscience and says something". He does not accept that she may be dead. "I do not want her to be presumed dead in the context of the legislation that we are lobbying for, which is why I am seeking these guardianship provisions for families to be able to use after somebody goes missing until they are ready for them to be presumed dead."

The police investigation into the Claudia's suspected murder has been scaled down, but Mr Lawrence is encouraged that "information is still coming in". Det Supt Ray Galloway pledged on Friday: "We will never give up on the search for Claudia and those responsible for her disappearance."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot