RELATIVES of a British pensioner, who went missing nine months ago during the height of Bahrain's unrest, have accepted they may never see her again.
There have been countless unsuccessful appeals for information about Patricia Bulgen, who disappeared on March 14.
Any news about what happened to Ms Bulgen would be the perfect Christmas gift for the family, which will otherwise spend the festive season not knowing where she is or even if she is alive.
Her birthday was last Thursday and she would have turned 79, but while her family is beginning to accept that she might be dead - they still want answers.
Ms Bulgen's sister Dianne and brother-in-law David have been in contact with the British Embassy in Bahrain and police in the UK, but have received no information on her whereabouts.
"With such an elderly, infirm lady missing for nine months, we are not very hopeful of her still being found alive - but still we can never know and we still hope," David, who asked for his full name not to be published, told the GDN.
"What we are looking for at this point is an explanation of what happened to her.
"We have requested both the British Embassy in Bahrain and the police in the UK to step up their efforts to find out what happened.
Dianne and David earlier submitted a request to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) for help in tracking her down, but never received a formal response.
In their letter to the embassy and police, they also urged authorities to work with the BICI.
"We requested them to initiate contact with the commission in the hope of finding any information on the whereabouts of Patricia through the 5,000 interviews they conducted, as she disappeared during the height of the unrest in Bahrain," said David.
"We had also contacted the BICI directly, but without success as we only got a standard automated response saying they would reply formally within a few days."
During their mission to find Ms Bulgen, a website was created through which people can directly contact the family with any information.
"When we created the website we had hoped that people would contact us and we still do, because you never know what could happen," said David.
"This whole ordeal has taken a toll on my wife emotionally as she is finding it very difficult to cope with the situation.
The last known sighting of Patricia, or Pat as she is known, was by a driver who dropped her home in Mahooz on March 14 following a trip to the Al Jazeera Supermarket, Zinj, that morning.
She was officially reported missing by her landlord on March 17 after the guard at her compound became concerned, having not seen her for a few days.
Since then, there have been no significant leads in the case and no formal witnesses identified.