family bid farewell at the end of a summer break - and
for Kate and Gerry McCann it can only be a deeply
parents of missing Maddie simply taking the decision to
go on holiday was almost too hard to bear.
It was the
couple's first proper getaway with their three-year-old
twins since that fateful trip to Portugal 14 months ago.
them the excitement and anticipation of other
them the promise of time free from the stresses of
and Gerry their threeweek trip to Canada could hardly be
anything but a painful reminder of what happened in
Praia da Luz in May last year. And Maddie did not leave
their minds for a moment.
courageous couple knew it had to be done. For their own
sake, and their twins, they knew they needed to take
that painful step and go abroad without Madeleine.
deeply moving pictures show, hugs and tears marked the
poignant goodbye to friends and expat family members at
Vancouver airport as the holiday ended.
Kate and Gerry, anxious to keep everything as normal as
possible, watched son Sean in his favourite Harry
Dinosaur PJs as he pulled a Noddy case towards check-in.
Amelie - the image of Maddie, who is now the same age as
her sister when she vanished - revelled in loving hugs
from Gerry while the family prepared for the nine-hour
flight home last Thursday.
dressed in pink top and cargo trousers, managed a small
smile as the struggled with luggage.
strain was never far from the surface.
couple, both 40, had stayed with Kate's aunt, Norah Paul
- who explained how the holiday meant one agonising
hurdle was now behind them.
sister of Kate's dad, said after waving off the McCanns:
"They had a lovely time, very relaxing. It was all about
them getting away.
really enjoyed being away from the spotlight. We spent a
lot of time at the beach. The beaches here are
beautiful." Norah's daughter and neighbours who got to
know Kate and Gerry during their stay were also at the
Norah, who emigrated to Canada several years ago, who
had a key role in persuading the McCanns to take their
first holiday since Madeleine vanished.
originally from Liverpool, like Kate - spoke up in
support of the couple after they were named as official
suspects by Portuguese police.
their stay in Canada the family are also believed to
have met up with vicar's wife Susan Haynes-Hubbard.
husband is minister at the church in Praia da Luz where
the McCanns prayed each day. Canadian Susan became a
tower of strength to Gerry and Kate in the days after
Madeleine went missing from the family's holiday
factor in the McCanns' choice of holiday destination was
the sheer vastness of the country around Vancouver -
which promised them much-needed peace and quiet.
is the capital of British Columbia - four times the size
of the UK and marked by dense forests, miles of rugged
Pacific coastline and views of the snow-capped Rockies.
thought Vancouver's Kitsilano beach became one of the
friend said yesterday: "They had more time to think
about Madeleine than ever and it was incredibly painful
the holiday would be sad and poignant as well as
family spent much of their break on the beach and the
twins had a brilliant time.
Amelie have their big sister's love of swimming and
enjoyed many sessions in the warm Pacific waters.
very difficult at times for Kate and Gerry to be
splashing around with the twins and there being no
Maddie there to join in the fun with them."
their return home to Rothley, Leics, on Friday, Gerry
highlighted the pain the family felt at going away
without their elder daughter. He said on his internet
diary: "We have managed to have a break visiting family.
Amelie have had a brilliant time and it has been great
for me to spend so much time with them."
cardiologist Gerry - on his first holiday since
returning to work full-time at Leicester's Glenfield
Hospital - added: "Although this has been a relaxing
break, it has been incredibly difficult for Kate and me
to have been on holiday without Madeleine.
It is all
too apparent what is missing." The McCanns' spokesman
Clarence Mitchell said yesterday: "It was just not the
same without Madeleine. They missed her so much. They
had as reasonable a break as possible under the
could never switch off and get away from it completely.
needs a holiday, Kate and Gerry included. They have
always felt they didn't want a holiday while Madeleine
is still missing.
felt it was the right time and chose to have a break as
much for the twins as themselves."
the family were kept in touch about any developments in
the hunt for their daughter.
Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry were trying to have a
relaxing time and I didn't want to keep bothering them
but I did text them a few times to give updates.
obviously wanted to be kept informed of what was
Canada could not give the McCanns total escape from the
drama and distress of the Maddie case.
after the couple jetted out they were told Portuguese
police had closed the investigation.
then emerged the cops have until the end of July to
decide on the move.
McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell vowed: "The search
for Madeleine will go on with or without the police's
Monday Leicestershire police agreed to hand the couple
evidence collected in their inquiries. The information
could help private investigators hired by the McCanns.
also won the backing of MEPs in their call for a
Europe-wide child abduction alert system.
much greater co-operation between countries when a
youngster is reported missing.A source said: "It was a
great end to the holiday to hear that their campaigning
had paid off."