As he talks movingly about dealing with the anguish of his daughter Melanie Hall being murdered, dad Steve says he has a growing fear he will die before the case is solved.

NHS worker Melanie, who would have turned 50 this year, was 25 when she vanished from a nightclub in 1996.

She was never seen alive again. Her remains were found next to a motorway slip road 13 years later in 2009.

Although 11 arrests have been made over the years, no one has ever been charged with her murder.

Each arrest was a moment of hope for her family – and it has been a blow each time the person was released.

Steve, 76, believes the cold case investigation, codenamed Operation Denmark, will solve the mystery one day.

Steve (left) and Pat Hall as they issued an appela for more information

He said: “The police have been tremendous over the years and I know they are working on this as though this happened yesterday and are poring over every bit of evidence they can.

“The answer is out there somewhere.”

But he is mindful of each passing year as he and wife Pat – a retired nurse who is also 76 – grow older.

Steve said: “There is a fear now the tragedy will outlive us.”

At the family home, where they still keep Melanie’s old room spick and span, he spoke about the enduring pain.

He said: “You sink or swim in these situations. You don’t want to wake up in the morning but you do and you have to get on with it. That’s what I have tried to do every day for the last 24 years.”

Steve Hall pictured at his home in Bradford on Avon near Bath

Steve said he, Pat and their other daughter Dominique have tried to cope in different ways.

He has kept busy by throwing himself into developing property, spending years as chairman of Bath City FC and becoming an accomplished artist.

But as he speaks, it is clear there is still a gaping hole in their lives.

He said: “We don’t talk about it as a family very much. I know that might sound funny but tragedies tend to drive people apart whereas striving for success tends to pull people together.

“So when we do talk about it we try and be positive. We think about her bedroom, how she would have had it, what her life would have been like now...

“But we don’t grieve together, we never have done I don’t think.

DCI James Riccio

“It has been very private for each of us. I know my wife and daughter have found it very tough, but we don’t talk about it. I try not to think about the person that did it, or what happened to Melanie.

“You have to put it to a slot at the back of your mind if you can.

“But it catches you out. It sneaks in there. My weak spot is when I am driving on my own. Melanie will suddenly come into my mind and I just can’t help but get tearful. You don’t see it coming, but it will always be there.”

Clerical officer Melanie, who worked at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Somerset, vanished after a night out in the city.

She was in Cadillacs nightclub with friends and her German boyfriend, Dr Philip Kurlbaum. The couple fell out on the dance floor and he left.

Melanie ended up alone, and it is thought she was last seen talking to a man outside the club at around 2am.

Police officers at the scene where the remains of Melanie Hall were discovered

Police ruled out Dr Kurlbaum as a suspect in 1996. Melanie’s remains were found in undergrowth near an M5 slip road north of Bristol.

Steve, from Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts, said: “People always want to play detective. At the time we had people come up to us and say ‘I’m sure it was this person, sure it was that person’. I think I’ve learned if you allow yourself to get sucked into that you just create misery for yourself.

“I think it’s fair to say she met somebody in the club or went off with someone and something went wrong, possibly some sort of sexual advance.”

He added: “These situations [are] hard on couples and they often split because sharing the pain becomes too great. One reason we probably don’t talk about it much is the frustration creeps in, the frustration of neither of us being able to help the other.

“What I would say to anyone else in a situation like mine is time does heal.

“The pain never goes away but you learn to put it in a particular place.

“But it changes you, changes you for ever. I’ve got three granddaughters, they help me immensely and are something I hang on to in life.”

Cadillacs nightclub in Bath where Melanie disappeared from

Det Chief Insp James Riccio, in charge of the cold case review, believes the case will be cracked.

He said: “The Hall family are amazing. They go about their life with such dignity having lived this tragedy for the last 24 years, forever hopeful we will find Melanie’s killer.

“Her picture is still in the centre of their mantelpiece in their lounge because Pat wants her there where she knows she is warm. For us that is a really powerful motivation.

“With all the innovation and investigative experience we’ve got we’re confident we’ll identify the person responsible and bring them to justice.

“Every time we make an arrest I imagine that gives them some hope but then unfortunately we don’t get past the charging threshold... We are conducting a review on all the people arrested before – and looking at them with a modern investigative mindset to see if we can actually advance any of those arrests.

“We are still heavily investing in the forensics surrounding the area Melanie’s body was found.

“Probably more than one person knows about this [murder].

“Think of Steve and Pat, they are still living this tragedy day to day. If you were harbouring a secret 24 years ago, why keep it secret now?

“We are not far away – we believe this is highly solvable.”