The mother of a former Barnoldswick hairdresser missing in Scotland says his family can’t put into words how they feel.
Grant Cunliffe (49), who owned David Grant Hair Design and now lives in Long Preston with his wife and two daughters, was last seen on the morning of Thursday, January 19th, after going hill walking in the Cairngorms for a couple of days.
He was due to contact his family on Saturday but failed to do so and the alarm was raised. A three-day search for Mr Cunliffe was stood down by police around 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon after finding no trace of him.
His mother, Christine Edwards, said he headed south from Aviemore last Wednesday on a 23-mile walk into Corrour Bothy, a mountain refuge in the Lairig Ghru pass.
The last his family heard from him was when he phoned on Thursday morning from the refuge to say he would probably be out of range for a couple of days.
Around 180 rescue personnel were involved in the search from Sunday to Tuesday but were initially hampered by foggy weather on the first of the three days.
Search teams included representatives from Northern Constabulary and Grampian Police, Cairngorm and Braemar Mountain Rescue teams with the aid of dogs and the RAF from Kinloss, Leuchars and Lossiemouth.
Mr Cunliffe, who has walked in the Cairngorms several times before, had gone up to Scotland to complete part of his training as a Duke of Edinburgh Award assessor.
Christine said: “Grant is missing presumed dead. The family are devastated. I can’t describe in words how we all feel. He was doing something he loved though; he was driven to climb mountains from a young age.
“He needed to sleep in a snow hole for two days as part of his Duke of Edinburgh work, but there hasn’t been enough snow and they found his helmet and ice-axe in his car. He’s presumably gone off and done his own thing and had an accident.”
Mr Cunliffe, the son of the late David Cunliffe who was chairman of Coats Viyella, ran the very successful David Grant Hair Design in Newtown for 25 years after training in the profession at Nelson and Colne College.
However, being an experienced walker and climber and having a love of the great outdoors from the age of 11, Mr Cunliffe changed his career to become an independent outdoor activities organiser, working as a group leader on specialist trips to destinations such as Kenya, Namibia and Peru.
His wife Linda, who he met at Edge End High School, formerly in Nelson, when they were head boy and head girl together, and his two daughters, Jessica (20) and Olivia (16), travelled back home on Wednesday having gone up to Aviemore to wait for news.
Mr Cunliffe was due to go on a skiing holiday with his family next month to celebrate both his 50th birthday and his daughter’s 21st birthday.