Madeleine McCann's parents say 'we're never going to give up'

Madeleine McCann’s parents say ‘we’re never going to give up’ looking for their missing daughter as they post poignant tribute on her 20th birthday

  • Maddie McCann, three, vanished from a holiday apartment in the Algarve

Madeleine McCann’s parents have posted a poignant tribute to mark their daughter’s 20th birthday today – telling her: ‘We love you and we’re waiting for you. We’re never going to give up.’

Kate and Gerry wrote ‘Happy Birthday Madeleine. Still missing. Still very much missed. Still looking. For as long as it takes.’

The message on the official Find Maddie Campaign Facebook page accompanies a cherished last photo of her as a three-year-old, beaming in a pink sunhat and clutching tennis balls.

The website is viewed by thousands of supporters across the world.

The McCanns’ will remember their daughter ‘quietly’ during a small celebration at home with their eighteen-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

Maddie McCann went missing just nine days before her fourth birthday from a holiday apartment in the Algarve while she was left sleeping alone with her younger twin siblings

Madeleine McCann ‘s parents have posted a poignant tribute to mark their daughter’s 20th birthday today

They hold onto a glimmer of hope she could still be alive 16 years after she was snatched from a Portuguese holiday apartment, in May 2007.

Maddie’s great uncle Brian Kennedy said: ‘Sixteen years without someone and still not knowing where they are is a very long time. Even if it was bad news, in some ways, it would give us some closure. But with no closure there is still hope.’

Token presents and cards from family members and well wishers to mark the special day will be gathered and kept in a memory box.

At one time Maddie’s pretty pink bedroom at her home Rothley, Leicestershire, had become a shrine to her with memorabilia over the years adorning it.

Kate and Gerry McCann pictured with their daughter Amelie (bottom right) during the prayers service

Madeleine McCann, then three, went missing while on holiday with her family in Praia da Luz, Portugal , in May 2007, vanishing from their accommodation without trace

But it is unknown if the room has since been changed in use or given to one of her siblings as Gerry has previously said: ‘Soon there will be the practical issue of what to do with a ‘spare’ room one of the twins may need.’

A family source said: ‘Another birthday comes and still Kate and Gerry have no idea what happened to their daughter, and if she dead or alive and still out there waiting to be found.

‘It is a difficult time for them but they will remember Madeleine with a quiet celebration behind closed doors.

‘There will be gifts, prayers, cake, fond memories and above all hope.’

READ MORE:  Kate McCann’s best friend Fiona Payne who was one of the ‘Tapas Seven’ is at her side as family mark 16th anniversary of daughter Madeleine’s disappearance

Family, friends and supporters joined a poignant anniversary gathering for Maddie last Wednesday, May 3.

At the vigil, Maddie McCann’s younger sister spoke publicly for the first time, saying it was ‘nice that everyone is here together, but it’s a sad occasion’.

Amelie, with her long blonde hair and casually dressed in navy leggings, trainers and cream puffa jacket, was warmly welcomed along with Kate and Gerry by locals and supporters during an informal prayer gathering in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire.

Her twin brother Sean did not attend.

Amelie took her turn to light a candle for Maddie and other missing children at the war memorial, where pictures of her sister adorned the black railing and where a lantern of hope still glows around the clock for her.

Kate, wearing black jeans and a blue jacket, joined in prayers but neither she nor Gerry addressed the crowds.

The Reverend Rob Gladstone, vicar of the local parish church, led prayers at the informal outdoor event.

He told those gathered: ‘We are here this evening to show our loving concern for Madeleine and for all young children who have been taken away from their families against their will.

‘We are also here to encourage one another to keep up hope and pray for a renewal of strength even after this long time.’

Meanwhile, Kate McCann’s best friend was at her side as they marked the 16th anniversary of her disappearance last week.

Fiona Payne, 50, who was one of the seven friends with the McCanns on the night Maddie vanished, has often been described as Kate’s ‘rock’ over the years.

Both doctors, the best friends, who were nicknamed ‘Charlie’s Angels’ by a colleague at the hospital where they worked together, bear an uncanny likeness with their long blonde hair and both wearing reading glasses now.

During Wednesday evening’s gathering to remember Madeleine in Rothley, Leicestershire, Fiona and Kate chatted together alone and with other well-wishers.

Fiona read a moving poem ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ by Emily Dickinson.

Kate and Gerry McCann said they still find it ‘hard to find the words’ to convey how they feel on the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, as they said they are still waiting anxiously for a ‘breakthrough’ in the case

Picture shows the house in Lagos, Portugal, where the three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007

Ex-GP turned medical worker Kate, 55, said afterwards: ‘As we do every year, we gathered in our village to mark the anniversary of our daughter Madeleine’s abduction.

‘It was a special event and lovely to sense the hope and warmth of those who were there.’

Kate and respected heart doctor Gerry, 54, had earlier that day posted a message saying their daughter was ‘still very much missed’ and they ‘await a breakthrough’ in the police hunt for her.

They wrote: ‘The police investigation continues, and we await a breakthrough. Thank you to everyone for your support – it really helps.’

When three-year-old Madeleine went missing from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, it was Fiona who helped comfort her devastated friend, and has been there for her ever since.

Maddie had been left sleeping alone with her younger twin siblings while her parents were dining in a nearby tapas restaurant with their seven pals. 

Kate had said: ‘We talked and cried and held onto each other. It was like a horror movie that refused to end.’

Fiona and her husband David, were among seven friends of Kate and Gerry who had been dining together in a nearby tapas restaurant that night.

Kate and Gerry McCann with their daughter Amelie at the prayer service in the village of Rothley to mark the 16th anniversary of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine

The seven friends – three couples and the mother of one of the mums – had joined the McCanns in Praia da Luz for a joint holiday and the nine adults along with their eight children.

The group of adults were dubbed the Tapas 7 as they were dining with Gerry and Kate at the hotel complex’s tapas restaurant on the night Madeleine went missing.

Each of them willingly co-operated with the Portuguese and British police investigation and none were ever made ‘arguido’ – persons of interest – in the enquiries.

As well as Fiona and her husband Dr David Payne, there was Fiona’s mother Dianne Webster, Rachael Oldfield, a recruitment consultant, and her husband Matthew and Jane Tanner and her husband Dr Russell O’Brien.

German police are convinced Maddie is dead and have been intent on charging prime suspect Christian Brueckner – sensationally named nearly three years ago – with her kidnap and ‘no body’ murder.

But it recently emerged that the convicted peadophile may never face a trial in the high profile Maddie case, and with unrelated alleged sex offences, because of a legal technicality over foreign courts’ jurisdiction.

Brueckner, 45, is currently serving a sentence in a German jail for the rape of an American tourist in the same resort of Praia da Luz Maddie vanished from in May 2007.

He has vehemently denied any involvement in her abduction.

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