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Original Source: Express: 26 December 2007
Wednesday December 26,2007 By Martin Evans in Praia de Luz and Padraic Flanagan

The hunt goes on for Madeleine McCann  


KATE and Gerry McCann spent the saddest Christmas Day of their lives yesterday, consoled by the help of specialist grief counsellors.


They tried their hardest to hide their anguish as they took their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to Mass.


As they passed the heartbreaking milestone of their first Christmas without her, they vowed they would “never give up hope” in the hunt for four-year-old Madeleine.


But the two psychologists who have helped them deal with their tragic loss were nearby to help them cope with the trauma of spending the day apart from their daughter.


Kate, 39, chose to spend the Christmas holiday with her cousin Anne-Marie Wright, 43, in Skipton, North Yorks which hosts the HQ of the Centre for Crisis Psychology.


Alan Pike and Martin Alderton from the centre flew to Portugal soon after the youngster vanished from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3. They have played a vital behind-the-scenes role ever since, both in helping the couple deal with the aftermath of the crime and the devastation of being made official suspects.


Writing on his blog, cardiologist Gerry McCann, 39, described the “misery” of their “dreadful situation”.


But he said the family had been touched by messages of support, cards and presents from all over the world.

“Christmas will be a very quiet affair for our family without Madeleine.


He added: “Madeleine should not be spending Christmas away from her loving family.


“The person who took Madeleine has it in their power to end our suffering and will be able to appease their conscience that they have done the right thing – especially at this time of year.”


Yesterday the McCanns joined Anne-Marie Wright and her husband Michael for a Christmas Day Mass at St Stephen’s Church in Skipton.


The Wrights looked after twins Sean and Amelie while the McCanns went on an awareness-raising trip to Morocco.

Yesterday Kate and Gerry swung Sean between them as his sister skipped along beside the couple as they left church.


Wearing black trousers and a beige quilted coat, Kate – still bearing a drawn and haunted look in her eyes – did her best to make the big day as normal as possible for the twins.


A parishioner at the church on the fringe of the Yorkshire Dales said: “The twins appeared to have been given dolls for Christmas and both were clutching their toys as they headed to church.


“Kate and Gerry were doing their best to put on a united display for the youngsters, but not having Madeleine by their side must have been tearing them apart.


“The look in Kate’s eyes said it all – she was a mother who just wants to be reunited with her daughter for Christmas.

“Having Madeleine back would give the family the most fantastic New Year after all the heartache of 2007.”


No one from the trauma centre was available for comment yesterday.


But previously Alan has revealed how he’d helped the couple come to terms with their ordeal.


He said: “The aim is to help them to understand what is happening to them physically and emotionally, because it can be debilitating.


“That allows them to focus on what needs to be done.”


His boss Keith Tasker added: “We cannot fix it for them. We know that and they know that.


“There are all the ‘if onlys’ and ‘what ifs’ — what if we had done that or said that. We help them to come to terms with those thoughts.’”


In Praia da Luz, prayers were said for Madeleine at the local church where Kate and Gerry spent much of their time in the weeks following their daughter’s disappearance.


Anglican vicar Father Haynes Hubbard, who became close friends with the family, said: “Madeleine is always in our thoughts, in our hearts and in our prayers, but especially so at Christmas.


“She is not forgotten here in Praia da Luz.”


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