For the past four-and-a-half years the family of missing Aberdeenshire man Shaun Ritchie have prayed for news.
Their memories have sustained them and they have shared the anguish of those who have found themselves in a similar position, including the relatives and friends of Liam Smith.
Now, on Mr Ritchie’s 25th birthday, his sister Nicole Shand has made an emotional fresh appeal for information.
“If anyone has information that could help give his family and friends some peace of mind we would be really grateful,” she said.
Mr Ritchie was 20-years-old when he disappeared, having last been seen by his family at home in Fraserburgh on Friday October 31, 2014.
CCTV footage captured him visiting a convenience store in Fraserburgh that day before travelling in a van with a group of friends to a farm in the Greenburn area, near Strichen.
Mr Ritchie was reported missing on the evening of Sunday November 2.
But while items of his clothing, including his shoes and belt, were recovered, inquiries soon went cold and there have been no confirmed sightings of him since.
Despite a large-scale and ongoing inquiry, police have been unable to give the family the answers they were hoping for.
Now Miss Shand is speaking out on Mr Ritchie’s birthday about the struggles families face when they are involved in a missing person case.
She said: “My heart goes out to anyone in this situation. You just need to keep hoping and cherish the memories and moments that you had with them, as it’s important.
“You always keep hoping that one day you will get closure. I think going for walks helps me get a bit more peace of mind when things are bad.
“It has been extremely hard for us. I really felt for Liam Smith’s family as they also went through a really tough time.
“The most difficult parts are birthdays and anniversaries.
“Every day is hard but occasions make you aware time is passing when really it only feels like it happened yesterday.”
Miss Shand, who works as a care and support worker in Fraserburgh, is still hopeful that the family will have closure in the end.
She fondly remembers her brother and the fun they had as youngsters.
“He was very outgoing and lived for the day,” she said.
“He had a lot of friends and everyone seemed to know him. He should really be here celebrating his 25th birthday.
“If anyone has information that could help give his family and friends some peace of mind we would be really grateful.”
Police confirmed that the case into Mr Ritchie’s disappearance is still ongoing, with officers “keeping an open mind” and urging people, even with seemingly insignificant information, to come forward.
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The case remains one of the largest ever missing person operations carried out by Police Scotland.
Detective chief inspector Lorna Ferguson, who oversees the inquiry, said: “Extensive and detailed searches were conducted with assistance from every specialist air, land and water resource, with more than 200 officers covering more than 22km of ditches, rough terrain and large water areas.
“We were also assisted by the expertise of a forensic soil scientist and geoscientist while intelligence-led information also formed a crucial part of our inquiries with all potential leads pursued by the inquiry team.”
The case has been reviewed by the Major Investigation Team in Glasgow and again by police specialist search advisors and the National Crime Agency’s lead search advisor.
All have concluded it remains a missing person case and that there is “no evidence Shaun has been the victim of any crime”.
Detective Chef Inspector Ferguson added: “We appreciate how hard it must be for Shaun’s family as more years pass.
“My thoughts are with them at what will be a difficult time.”