We look forward to Maddy's return, says her father

We look forward to Maddy's return, says her father 
Olga Craig and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz and Andrew Alderson
13 May 2007
The Sunday Telegraph

THE FATHER of Madeleine McCann paid tribute to his abducted daughter yesterday and spoke of his continuing hope that she would be returned safe and well.

On her fourth birthday, Gerry McCann told a church service in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz that vigils taking place in Portugal and Britain had given the family strength as the hunt continued for Madeleine, who was snatched 10 days ago.

He told people at the 16th century church: "Today we should be celebrating the fourth birthday of our daughter Madeleine. Instead we have had to remember what a normal, beautiful, vivacious, funny, courageous and loving little girl that we are missing today.''

Her abduction had hit the family like a "tidal wave'' of devastation. But he said: "We are looking forward to the day Madeleine returns to us as a joyous one.'' Locals tied yellow ribbons round the church's railings, and showered Mr McCann and his wife Kate with affection and flowers after the service. Mr McCann said: "We walked out of the church thinking we will see Madeleine soon.''

The service was held as police tried to trace the driver of a white van who was last seen loitering near the holiday apartment block at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz from where Madeleine was snatched as she slept between her two-year-old twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie.

The driver is said to be white, about 5ft 8in and aged 30-35. He had a partly shaven head and wore a blue jacket and white trousers.

British police are reported to have compiled a detailed photofit of the man. A detective making inquiries in Leicester, near the family home, said a witness staying at the resort spotted the man behaving furtively shortly before Madeleine vanished.

She is understood to have given police a statement and helped to make an e-fit, which was faxed to Portugal.

Mr and Mrs McCann used Madeleine's birthday to renew their plea for her return. "We would like to mark today by asking people to redouble their efforts to help find her,'' they said in a statement.

"We know there is already a huge amount of effort and resource being put into the search. Please keep looking. Please keep praying. Please help bring Madeleine home.''

Support for the family continued to pour in. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, interrupted campaigning for the Labour leadership to voice his sympathy. "Every parent will be thinking about what they can do to help the parents and will be sympathising with them in this hour of need,'' he said.

"My thoughts, like the thoughts of all parents, are with Maddy's parents.''

A reward of pounds 1.5 million for information leading to Madeleine's safe return was offered yesterday by a group of business figures, celebrities and a national newspaper, bringing the total on offer to pounds 2.5 million. Contributors to the new reward include the tycoons Sir Richard Branson and Sir Philip Green.

The McCanns and the twins spent a private family day yesterday. A party had been planned at the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire. Susan Healy, 61, Madeleine's grandmother, insisted that it had merely been postponed.

Madeleine's disappearance was discovered by her mother, a GP, when she returned to the flat at 10pm on May 3 from a nearby tapas bar where she and Mr McCann, a cardiologist, had been dining, returning regularly to check the children.

It is believed that the family may have been stalked in the days leading up to the abduction and that Madeleine was targeted by two men and a woman. Witnesses have reported seeing the three, first photographing fair-haired British children and later with a girl who looked like Madeleine. Nine people, all thought to be British and including the McCanns, have been questioned.

(Note: article no longer online. See: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8962649.html )

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors