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Article: Rag doll & birthday candle of hope for Maddie..

Original Source: HIGH BEAM: 13 MAY 2010
Byline: RACHAEL BLETCHLY in Paia da Luz Article from: The People (London, England) Article date: May 13, 2007



MISSING Madeleine McCann's distraught mum Kate clutched a rag doll she had bought for the tot's fourth birthday yesterday - but never got the chance to hand over.

What was to have been a weekend of joy was sheer agony for her family as they waited for news on the kidnapped little girl.

Maddie should have been excitedly blowing out the candles on her Dr Who cake. But the only candles flickering were at sombre vigils for her.

On Friday Kate and husband Gerry, both 38, joined locals in prayer at a church in Praia da Luz, the resort in Portugal where Maddie was abducted nine days ago.

Kate was carrying the rag doll and Maddie's "cuddle cat" doll she has been holding all week as a symbol of hope.

Kate and Gerry, from Rothley, Leics, were too overwhelmed with their distress to speak in public yesterday.

But Alex Woolfall, of their holiday firm Mark Warner, read out a message from them. It said: "On Madeleine's birthday, please keep looking, please keep praying, please bring Madeleine home. We would like to mark today by asking people to redouble their efforts to help find Madeleine.

"We know there is already a huge amount of effort and resource being put into the search for our daughter. We also know that offers of support are being made daily.

"It is this that keeps us strong and gives us hope."

GP Kate has lost almost a stone in weight since Maddie was abducted and is unable to eat properly or sleep without sedatives. She looked frail, gaunt and haggard yesterday.

The couple followed a Portuguese tradition of wearing something green and carrying green branches to the 16th Century church as a sign of hope.

Local mechanic Pedro Melo, 25, explained: "We want Madeleine's parents to know how much we care and wish this had never happened.

"We feel like crying for them. Their pain must be so great."

A picture of Maddie, whose face can be seen on lamp posts and in shop windows across the town, was pinned near the altar - set inside a red heart.

As the service neared its end, a single piece of green string was passed through the crowd right to the back of the church until everyone was holding it - uniting the McCanns with everyone there.

Back in the UK Maddie's relatives and family friends were also anxiously awaiting news.

A party in Glasgow planned for her birthday by uncle and aunt John and Philomena was put on hold.

John, 48 said: "There was no point in having a birthday party without Madeleine - but the party has only been postponed, not cancelled. We are going to have it when she comes back and then it will be a massive party." He bravely added: "We have our moments of anguish and despair - but we know that all it takes is for one person to come forward with information."

Philomena, 43, spent the day handing out 15,000 posters to football fans outside Glasgow's Celtic Park ground, hoping to jog the memory of supporters who may have visited Portugal.

Maddie's grandparents in Liverpool, Brian and Susan Healey, told last night how they were "storming heaven" for her. Susan, 61, said: "Please God she will be back to blow her birthday candles out. She loved to blow out candles.

"It is hard for everybody but with the help of our friends it's possible to keep going.

"We have to keep Madeleine in the spotlight, we have to have Madeleine brought home."

Brian, 67, pleaded to Maddie's kidnappers: "Please just bring her home. The support we have had is immense. We are storming heaven trying to find her." Friends in Liverpool have tied yellow ribbons and pink balloons to their fences.

The village square in Rothley, where the family moved last year, has become a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of people wanting to show support.

The war memorial has been decorated with a thousand yellow ribbons. Next to it stands a 3ft pink and white rabbit, flanked by dozens of teddy bears. Among the hundreds of scrawled notes were many from children, not much older than Maddie.

One from Alex, eight, and Cameron, five, read: "We are thinking about you on your birthday and hoping you will come home safely. Hope you get to cuddle the teddy soon."

Staff at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, where Gerry is a cardiologist and at Kate's GP surgery in Melton Mowbray have held vigils.

The McCanns arrived back at their resort apartment at 4pm yesterday after spending the day with their twins Sean and Amelie, two, in a brave bid to carry on as normally as possible. Amelie was carrying a red balloon. Kate hugged Sean, who was carrying a green balloon.

Gerry smiled and paused for photographs and kissed Amelie gently as they walked into the apartment.

Last night Kate arrived for Mass clutching a blanket from her missing daughter's bed.


She was wearing shorts and a yellow top and clutched Maddie's Cuddle Cat as she held her husband's hand. Green and yellow ribbons have been tied to the church doors - green the Portuguese symbol of hope and yellow in remembrance of missing Maddie.

Chancellor Gordon Brown expressed his sympathy for Maddie's parents.

Speaking in Gillingham, Kent, the the probable next PM said: "Every parent will be sympathising in their hour of need."

Hundreds of ex-pat Brits gathered in Praia da Luz yesterday to tie yellow ribbons in support of the family.

The railings in front of their holiday complex were covered in the colourful tributes, alongside bunches of yellow flowers and cuddly toys.

Claire Borges, originally from Banbury, Oxfordshire, said: "As a community, we feel like we've been hit in the stomach. Every day you pray for good news.

"I pray that she is going to be left at the gate of my house - so that I can return her to her parents."

Another woman said: "This has hit us like a thunderbolt.

"But there is a big community here that is on their side and I think they need to know that."

Kate and Gerry were expected to attend mass at the local Catholic church in Praia da Luz at 6pm today.

It is a Portugese religious holiday known as Miracle Day - in which the faithful pray for lost causes.


JOY: Little Maddie at home last Christmas; POIGNANT: Card outside grandad's Liverpool home; COURAGE: The family back from trip to villa yesterday; MESSAGE: Alex Woolfall yesterday


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