Vigil held for missing Steady Brook woman

Jamie Bennett
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‘Every time the phone rings or you check your e-mail, you’re wondering if there’s going to be news’

Dozens of candles were lit to honour Ann Marie Shirran at a vigil in Corner Brook Tuesday, but organizers of the event intend to keep one burning in their hearts until their friend is found.

Formerly known as Ann Marie Baggs, the one-time resident of Steady Brook has been missing since leaving her home in Kilbride July 18. Investigators have combed the province looking for clues in the search for Shirran, but no trace has been found.

Fearing the public was losing interest in the search, longtime friends of the 32-year-old mother staged a vigil at the Majestic Lawn Tuesday evening. Dozens of supporters wore red ribbons and had the chance to see a collage full of images from Shirran’s life.

According to organizer Susan Follett, the support was appreciated.

“We had an excellent turnout,” Follett said while at the vigil.

“A lot of people came, and it was amazing. I wouldn’t be able to guess the number of people who were here. Just the showing of support is phenomenal. We just want to keep the awareness there that she is missing and she needs to come home to her family and her son.”

As someone who has known Shirran since elementary school, Follett said the last two weeks have been incredibly difficult as friends and family wait desperately for any news at all.

“Every time the phone rings or you check your e-mail, you’re wondering if there’s going to be news,” she said. “Just knowing there’s someone going through a similar situation that you’re going through ... there’s strength in numbers.”

Fellow friend and organizer Crista Brake felt now, more than ever, it was important to hold such a gathering to keep the search for Shirran at the front of the public’s consciousness.

“After 17 days, people start to move on to new news and people that don’t know her start to forget,” Brake said. “So for everyone who knows her, her family especially and her friends, this is just to keep that awareness. Keep it in your mind that she’s still missing and her family is in turmoil. Don’t forget this person and let’s bring her home.”

Like Follett, Brake said she’s felt helpless as she’s waited for news during the search. Knowing Shirran for 20 years, Brake said her friend would likely have been amused at such a gathering in her honour.

“I think she’d probably say, ‘What are you doing?’” she said with a smile. “She’s a great girl. She’s beautiful and talented and outspoken. Ann’s the type of person who says what’s on her mind, and she’s a friend, through and through. I just know there’s no way she’s out there knowing all of these people are missing her and looking for her. She’s not watching all this happen.”

“A lot of people came, and it was amazing. I wouldn’t be able to guess the number of people who were here. Just the showing of support is phenomenal. We just want to keep the awareness there that she is missing and she needs to come home to her family and her son.” said organizer Susan Follett

Meanwhile, for Beverly Wheeler, who was valedictorian at Herdman Collegiate when Shirran graduated in 1996, attending the rally was the best way for her to show her solidarity with Shirran’s friends and family during this difficult time.

“I can’t say I really knew Ann, but she was a part of my youth and I think it’s important for us to get out, show our support and keep the awareness there because we’ve got to find her,” she said. “I can’t imagine what her family is going through.

“The not knowing and the waiting, the anticipation. It must be just unbearable for them. So to show them our support and that we’re thinking about them, that’s something I can do personally.”

The RNC is asking anyone with information in Shirran’s disappearance to contact local Crimestoppers organizations or the RNC at 729-8000 or 637-4100.

 

The Western Star

Geographic location: Steady Brook, Kilbride, Western Star

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