AS she approaches the tenth anniversary of her daughter disappearing without trace, no one could ever suggest that Joan Lawrence hasn’t faced up to her torment head-on.

The 75-year-old mother of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence personifies courage, resilience and a sheer refusal to let hope die.

And her latest demonstration of that bravery comes today as Joan talks publicly for the first time about how the stress has led to her losing her hair through alopecia.

Proudly facing the world in her smart new wig, she says: “I can’t ever give up hope that I’ll see Claudia again one day – and I have to look my best for her, don’t I?”

The 10th anniversary of Claudia going missing from her home in York falls on March 18 next year and the milestone is certain to generate a flurry of fresh media interest in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the 35-year-old, who worked at the University of York. For Joan, it represents another opportunity to keep the case in the public eye, including writing a book and another appearance on TV’s Loose Women.

“There have been lots of really dark days and I don’t know how I’ve kept my sanity at times,” she says. “But I have to keep going for Claudia’s sake – it won’t do her any good if I just lock myself away and be miserable, will it?”

She puts the loss of her hair down to the anxiety, but she wants to talk about it in the hope that it helps lift the stigma around hair-loss.

“My hair just kept getting thinner and I can’t pretend it didn’t get me down,” says Joan, who was born in Darlington but now lives in Malton, North Yorkshire.

But, thanks to her female doctor referring her to Betty Brown Wigs in York, Joan has been given renewed confidence.

“I went along and tried on lots of different wigs and took advice on what suited me best. The response from people has been phenomenal,” she says.

“People might give me a double-take in the supermarket or in the street but then they come up and say it’s taken 20 years off me.

“No matter how bad I’ve felt, I’ve always been determined to stay proud and not let myself go. Hopefully, that’s what I’ve done.

“Having the wig and hearing the response from people has given me a real lift. I look in the mirror and feel more determined than ever to keep fighting for Claudia. That’s all I can do.”

Despite her ordeal, Joan has also never lost her sense of humour, and she chuckles at the fact that the day of her wig-fitting coincided with one of the windiest days of the year.

“There was a right gale blowing and I was terrified it would fly off, but I’m getting used to it now,” she says before adding: “You have to laugh, don’t you?”

Almost ten years since her terrible nightmare began on Mother’s Day 2009, Joan Lawrence continues to do her missing daughter proud and inspire others with her courage.