Maddie’s mum fights back tears as she reads poem at 15th anniversary vigil
MADELEINE McCann’s mum fought back tears as she read a poem at a vigil to mark the painful 15th anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance.
Brave Kate and Gerry, pictured for the first time in public in four years, were warmly welcomed by their community during a poignant prayer service in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire.
It comes amid reports tonight that fibres from Maddie’s patterned pink Eeyore pyjamas are believed to have been found in prime suspect Christian B’s VW camper van.
Kate and Gerry, who hold onto a glimmer of hope that Maddie – who would now be aged nearly 19 – is still alive appeared overwhelmed by the support as they joined in prayers and readings to mark the occasion.
The annual outdoor event has been cancelled over the past two years because of Covid restrictions.
And in 2019 Kate turned up alone with her twins Sean and Amelie – now aged 17 – as her heart doctor husband was away in Italy at an important medical conference.
Former surgery GP turned hospital medical worker Kate, 54, had dashed from work to join Gerry at the war memorial for the welcomed event.
Kate, wearing black jeans, a blue V-neck sweater and trainers, fought back tears as children lit candles for Maddie and other lost youngsters.
Neither parent addressed the 100-strong crowd but Kate, wearing reading glasses, read a poem, saying: “Survival can be summed up three words.
“Never give up. That’s the heart of it really, just keep trying.
“Sometimes you have to get knocked down, Lower than you have ever been.
“To stand up taller than you ever were. Perseverance is stubbornness.”
The McCann’s joined family, pals and villagers for an informal evening service after German rapist Christian B was recently made an official suspect over Maddie’s abduction and presumed murder.
A family source said: “Kate and Gerry enjoy going to the service for a time of prayer and quiet reflection. They always appreciate the support of the public.”
They met in the chilly night air at Cross Green on the milestone anniversary and where a candle for the world’s most famous missing child still burns around the clock.
Cardiologist Gerry, 53, casually dressed in navy trousers, salmon-pink T-shirt and grey-blue sweater, later individually thanked well-wishers for attending the half-hour gathering.
Vicar of the local parish church, the rev. Rob Gladstone, who led the prayers, opened the service by telling the crowd: “Once again after a gap of two years we’re able to come together again here at Cross Green to remember Madeleine, to show solidarity to Kate and Gerry, Sean and Amelie.
“Lord we thank you for sustaining Gerry and Kate through these painful years.
“Keep us their hope of finding Madeleine, of discovering the truth of her disappearance..real hope is hard won.”
During the gathering touching messages of support were read out by children.
Pictures of a young Maddie were tied to the railing around the war memorial and a vase of fresh yellow flowers was placed on the ground.
The Maddie candle burned brightly as Rev Gladstone said: “We hope the light here in Rothley dispels the darkness.”
At times Kate and Gerry appeared tearful, at other times they smiled.
Kate, who appeared to be limping, was hugged by friends and supporters.
Three-year-old Maddie vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in May 2007.
She was discovered missing from her bed in the seaside complex by her horrified mum shortly after 10pm.
She had been left alone with her younger siblings while her parents were dining in a nearby tapas restaurant with their seven pals.
Kate and Gerry said tonight: “This year we mark fifteen years since we last saw Madeleine. It feels no harder than any other but no easier either. It’s a very long time.”