MOUNTAIN rescue volunteers and transport police joined the search this weekend for a teacher who vanished a week ago today (Sunday, March 16).

Mark Bushnell, deputy headmaster of the Durham School, disappeared from his Durham City home at lunchtime last Sunday and police have said his family are “very realistic” about the chances of a positive outcome to the search.

The father-of-three was reported missing by his wife that evening and his grey Citroen C23 was found in the car park at Blackhall Rocks, near Peterlee, on Monday morning.

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Around 30 mountain rescue volunteers were scouring the east Durham coast for clues yesterday and today.

Sergeant Rachel Stockdale, of Durham Police, has been leading the search this weekend – covering the area from from Blackhall Rocks to Crimdon Dene caravan park.

She said, before the weekend police had spoken to a number of people who remembered seeing Mr Bushnell or speaking to him after he parked his car last Sunday morning, but were hoping someone with vital information would yet come forward.

She said: “From a search perspective, we would say we would never give up.

“We have had fell rescue volunteers with the rescue support of their dogs down along the Crimdon Dene area.

“The British Transport Police have searched the railway line from Blackhall to Horden, while the wardens at Castle Eden Dene have been checking around the nature reserve.

“Police Community Police Officers (PCSOs) have been giving out leaflets containing Mr Bushnell’s photograph and details in the area his car was located and further beyond Crimdon Dene caravan park.”

Inspector Dave Coxon, of Durham Police, said last week he had talked with Mr Bushnell’s family and they were "very realistic about the chance of a positive outcome”.

He said: "Everything we have learned about him indicates a devoted family man who is very highly regarded by all who know him.

"It would be completely out of character for Mark to just disappear and not make any contact with his family."