Former paratrooper's search for Madeleine

25 May 2007
Newsquest Media Group Newspapers

Stephen Taylor and Colin Sahlke

A former Keighley paratrooper and his pal have started their own personal search around the Portuguese village where Madeleine McCann was abducted.

Colin Sahlke, 46, and Steve Taylor, 32, are scouring rough ground and abandoned buildings around Praia Da Luz hoping for a breakthrough more than three weeks after the four-year-old went missing.

Mr Sahlke and Mr Taylor say they are not interested in rewards but just want to help find Madeleine. The pair say their aim is to at least help restore the McCanns' "faith in humanity". Mr Sahlke has given up his rented flat and has sold possessions to raise £5,000 to fund their endeavour.

Since Sunday, kitted out in full army surplus gear including desert camouflage, with compasses, maps and binoculars they have been searching areas close to Praia Da Luz fanning out from the coastline to waste ground inland.

Mr Sahlke, who has two children, lost his 18-year-old daughter Debbie six years ago in a car accident. Mr Sahlke said: "A few years ago I lost my daughter and if I could give something back, if we even restore the McCanns' faith in humanity, it is a start."

The pair have met the McCanns in Praia Da Luz and explained what they were doing.

Mr Taylor, who is a father of five, said: "I can't imagine even an inkling how they are feeling. "We are here to help find or put pressure on the people who know where Madeleine is to either give her up or leave a clue."

The former infantryman met Mr Sahlke while the pair were working at a shower factory in Nelson and both have given up their jobs for the search. The pair say they are trying to search in places where no one else has searched.

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