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Missing Aberdeenshire woman’s heartbroken mum speaks of devastation

Shona Johnston's car was found at Dunnottar Castle but search teams have been unable to trace her despite extensive efforts
Shona Johnston's car was found at Dunnottar Castle but search teams have been unable to trace her despite extensive efforts

The mother of missing woman Shona Johnston has spoken of her devastation after her daughter vanished just 48 hours after they spent a happy weekend together.

Sheena Ritch travelled to see her daughter and young family at their home near Drumlithie, Aberdeenshire, and waved goodbye to her on Sunday.

She is now anxiously waiting for news after the 35-year-old mother of two young girls was reported missing on Tuesday.

An extensive search, concentrated around the Dunnottar Castle area near Stonehaven, is due to enter its third day today.

Mrs Johnston’s car – a black Nissan X trail – was discovered in the car park of the visitor attraction on Tuesday afternoon around 4pm.

Mrs Ritch said her daughter left her native Orkney five months ago to start a new life with her husband Graham, who works in the oil industry, and daughters Isabella, three and Hannah, 14 months.

Mrs Ritch said: “We are just devastated. She didn’t want to leave Orkney but it was the only thing they could do as a family.

“The move meant Graham could get home every night and see her and the girls.

“She was getting used to all the change and I was with her at a coffee morning on Saturday and she knew everyone there and had the most wonderful smile on her face.

“She had been down for a wee while and I was so happy to see her like that.”

Mrs Ritch, 70, of Deerness, Orkney, described her daughter as the “best mum.”

She added: “The bairns just loved her and they will be missing her terribly.”

It is understood Mr Johnston’s family are flying to Aberdeen from Orkney to be with their son and grandchildren.

Mr Johnston, 39, has close relatives in Stonehaven, where his wife was last seen in the Robert Street area around 1pm.

When she did not return, her family grew increasingly concerned and went to search for her.

They discovered her car at Dunnottar Castle around 4pm and raised the alarm.

Police said they were anxious to speak to any visitors or dog walkers who were in the area on Tuesday afternoon and may have seen the missing mum.

Shona Johnston
Shona Johnston

Inspector Jim Millar said: “We are still making inquiries to establish the circumstances as to why Shona Johnston went missing.

“Our main focus at the moment is that her car was found at Dunnottar and this is our main area of interest.

“We are trying to establish where she has been and what led her car to be here on Tuesday afternoon.

“We have not had any contact from her. If she is able to contact us we would ask her to phone us.

“Also, our plea is if anyone was in the area between 1pm and 4pm and saw anyone fitting Shona’s description we would ask them to call us on 101.

“We don’t have any sightings of her so far.”

Mrs Johnston – who is about 5ft 6ins and slim with short brown hair – was wearing a green fleece, jeans and ankle boots when she was last seen.

Yesterday, members of HM Coastguard Montrose sector were scouring the shoreline for any trace of Mrs Johnston with police dogs examining the cliff paths around the beauty spot.

Her car remained in the car park yesterday afternoon with police due to search the vehicle for any items of interest.

Stonehaven’s RNLI crew was also involved in the search yesterday. It is not due to launch today, but police divers are expected to continue the hunt.

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