THE parents of Claudia Lawrence have spoken of their continued heartache as they prepare to mark their daughter’s 40th birthday.

Claudia, who is from Malton, went missing five years ago next month while working as a chef at The University of York.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is Claudia’s birthday, and both her mother, Joan, and father Peter said her disappearance has left them living in limbo with a constant raw pain that time does not heal.

Peter said he was finding it very difficult to face such a significant birthday without his daughter and would be marking the day quietly.

“I always saw Claudia on her birthday and on her last birthday, before she went missing, we enjoyed lunch together,” he said. “We were always incredibly close and saw each other a least once a week, often more.

Claudia was a big part of my life and to not speak to her or see her on a regular basis has left a big hole in my life.

“Claudia is in my thoughts the whole time. I didn’t set out thinking how long is this going to be, but days have turned into weeks and now years.

“The not knowing is the hardest and it is something that never gets any easier, but what I do know is that I will never give up looking for her.”

Claudia was last seen on CCTV in Melrosegate, York, while heading home from work on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Claudia, then 35, spoke to her parents on the phone that night and seemed in high spirits, but she did not arrive at work for her 6am shift the following morning.

Peter, helped by close friends, including Malton councillor Martin Dales, has led a high-profile campaign to keep Claudia’s name in the public eye.

“I could not have done it without the support of my friends who have been wonderful - they have kept me going,” he said. “Someone knows what happened and I cannot understand how they can see the family suffering so much and not sayContinued from page 1 anything. They will be celebrating special occasions and birthdays with their loved ones which we cannot do - how can they possibly have any sort of conscience.”

Claudia’s mother, Joan, said she had been reflecting on her daughter’s early life in the run-up to her birthday. She had learnt to play the flute, loved animals and music. Joan said: “She was very keen on Elvis, and hated Cliff Richard because I liked him.”

To mark Claudia’s 40th birthday, Joan will visit Claudia’s sister Ali and her family who live in Derbyshire.

Joan, who lives in Norton, said the agony of her daughter’s disappearance is a constant regardless of how busy her life is. “Unless you’re in this situation you can’t imagine what it’s like,” she said. “It’s harder, much harder. Time doesn’t heal because we’re in limbo and we don’t know so time doesn’t heal.

People say maybe after a bereavement it does, but it’s still raw for a long, long time. We don’t know, and for us it’s very hard.”

Joan said she still lived with hope that her daughter will be found safe and well. She said: “There’s no evidence there’s been any foul play or that she’s been killed or murdered, there has never has been any evidence.

As a mum, I can’t begin to tell you what it’s like. It’s very, very hard. My grandchildren are missing out on an auntie.”

In July last year, police announced its Major Crimes Unit would carry out a complete review of a number of unsolved cases, including Claudia’s disappearance. Peter and Joan welcomed the announcement, and said they hoped the review would find something to keep their hope alive.