everything comes back to the fact that their eldest child isn't there
Kate and Gerry yesterday, a week before the third anniversary of the
fateful day Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment in
Praia da Luz,
Portugal - May 3, 2007 - and a fortnight before her
birthday on May 12th.
me: "Her birthday is actually much more difficult than May 3rd.
"It is a
day when we should be celebrating Madeleine - and celebrating WITH
Kate is bone thin and looks very fragile and, while Gerry might
appear to be coping well on the outside, you can clearly see the pain in
have a haunted, strained look but somehow they manage to get through the
twins, young as they are, know that things have changed but also that
they are part of a family that has a world of well-wishers.
GP, said that one of Sean's playmates had asked her "Are you a doctor?"
recalled: "Sean just came in and said, 'Mummy was a doctor but her job
now is to find Madeleine'. He was straight in there. So they understand
that we have got a lot of support."
41, and Kate, 42, draw comfort from that. But even while enjoying a
family outing and being able to laugh with the twins, Madeleine's
disappearance casts a shadow.
said: "We had a lovely day last week and it was really sunny and you
could smell the grass being cut and I thought, oh, this is really nice.
And then it just kind of gets you.
is still not here but we do have periods of normality. In fact, I would
say it's just changed, in that it is a different kind of normality now.
still have to do the cooking and washing, we've got Sean and Amelie and
we have lots of time with them. And we go on trips, they go swimming."
As well as having to put on a brave face for their children, they
both find themselves feeling almost guilty for any moments of snatched
put it: "Suddenly you realise it's actually tinged."
gone back to work, but that was tough to start with.
"It was a little bit awkward at the beginning but at that time I found
it much easier when I am mentally active, both from a campaign point of
view and workwise as well.
honest, most people were just really glad to see me. When I went back to
work, quite often Madeleine would be there on the front pages of
newspapers. So it was a bit awkward but it's not been a problem."
are now old enough to know what happened to their big sister. But
have had to be careful about being honest with them
about Madeleine, not frightening them.
Initially, when the twins asked where Madeleine was, Kate would say she
they grew older they started to ask more questions. Kate said: "I think
it was last year Amelie said to me, 'Has Madeleine run away?'
kept asking me in a public place so it was a bit tricky at first, and
she said, 'Because it's not nice to run away'.
really upset me because I thought I don't want her to think that
Madeleine is at fault. So, probably about the third time she asked when
we were at home we just explained that someone had taken Madeleine.
tried to make them understand in as gentle a way as possible. It's a bit
like stealing, you know.
how they understand it. So they know someone has taken her and they know
it is wrong."
It's hard to imagine how tough it must have been to tell two little
children that nightmares can happen and kids can be abducted from their
said: "They believe it was a
man that took her. It was a
naughty man and we need to try and find them. So part of what they say
is that mummy is working to try and help find Madeleine."
added: "They constantly spot things like a car sticker or a luggage tag
or a wrist band and they point it out and say, 'Look, they are helping
moment Madeleine disappeared, Kate and Gerry, who both appeared on my
GMTV sofa today to talk about their daughter, have moved heaven and
earth to try to find her.
campaign, which has included a high profile
visit to the Pope, a TV and poster campaign and appearances
on the likes of the
Oprah Winfrey show, certainly got the message across and
Madeleine's name was known worldwide.
has been a dark side, too.
Gerry found themselves accused of being neglectful parents and even
complicit in Madeleine's disappearance.
vilified for leaving her in their
holiday apartment while they dined
nearby with friends.
even criticised for "coping too well" because they didn't break down in
front of the cameras, as if this meant their grief wasn't genuine.
who sees them in private knows this to be horribly unfair and completely
untrue. Their grief is deep, raw and almost impossible to imagine.
told me: "You get criticised whatever you do from some quarter. What you
need to do is make decisions for the right reason and do it with the
"Ultimately, we make our own decisions. But I think probably, more than
anything, I'd say if we could turn back the clock and change what
happened then obviously we wouldn't have done it.
would say is people have got to put themselves in our position and ask
what would you do if it was your daughter?"
Those who continue to condemn the couple surely accept that they
have paid a truly horrendous price.
Portuguese law, Kate and Gerry found themselves as "arguidos" which
translates roughly as suspects.
only did they have to cope with their child being missing, they had to
endure being cross-examined by Portuguese police and having mud thrown
particular, found the vitriol tough to handle, especially in the early
months after Madeleine's disappearance.
"I wasn't expecting it because all I could see was our daughter has been
taken and she is being subjected to something terrifying. But it is a
small minority now."
ongoing campaign, Kate and Gerry would dearly love to see a full
government review of the case.
said: "It is not right that an innocent, vulnerable British citizen is,
essentially, given up on. We don't think it is right that, as parents,
we have to drive the search.
course, we will but not everyone has the same resources that we have
also produced a pack for Brits travelling abroad. It contains posters
and car stickers with images of Madeleine as she was when she went
missing and how she might look now.
said: "It is very much about keeping her image out there. Who knows who
will end up seeing her. But if you don't have an image of her out there
it is less likely."
I had to ask them whether they really thought that Madeleine was
said: "Certainly, in my heart, I feel she is out there.
nothing to say she isn't. So we carry on working and thinking like
still has a clear image of her daughter in her head but it is the image
of a child frozen in time at four years old - or, as she describes it,
"Madeleine at four years minus nine days".
"I can still hear her voice and we have video of her. Every so many
months we sit down and watch that."
said: "A lot of this campaign stuff, it's almost like the abstract
Madeleine. Our own video, it's ours. Sometimes you have got to embrace
the grief. It's almost like you have to let that out."
For a pack and more information, go to findmadeleine.com