'We're coming home'

'We're coming home'
Exclusive: Hard-up McCanns plan sad return to UK.. but search for Maddy goes on 

The Sunday Mirror
19 August 2007
Lori Campbell in Praia da Luz

Madeleine McCann's parents are preparing to make the heart-wrenching move back to Britain next month.

Kate and Gerry, who are on unpaid leave from their NHS jobs, are finding the financial burden of staying on in Portugal too much to bear. And they desperately want their two-year-old twins to regain some form of stability and routine in England.

A close family friend told the Sunday Mirror: "The lease on their villa runs out in mid- September and they're coming close to setting a date to return home."

Although they are feeling the financial strain the McCanns have refused to dip into the £1million Find Madeleine Fund set up to help pay their living expenses while they hunt for their daughter.

They have instead emptied their own life savings to pay for their stay in Portugal and the mortgage and bills on their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

Only £67,000 of the Find Madeleine Fund has been spent - the McCanns claim expenses only for flights and accommodation on campaign-related trips and for stationery to make posters.

And 108 days after Madeleine was kidnapped from their holiday apartment, the McCanns are now finding the costs of living in Portugal too much.

Gerry is on unpaid leave from his NHS job as heart consultant at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and Kate, a locum GP, is also not earning a salary.

The couple are now making preparations to return home when the £1,200-a-month rent on their three-bed villa in Praia da Luz runs out next month.

Their campaign manager Justine McGuiness is due to step down at the same time.

But the most pressing reason for the McCanns to return home is their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. They have always tried to maintain a stable routine for them in Portugal, taking them to the daily creche, Kids' Club and playing with them in the afternoons.

But they feel they now need to return them to the UK.

A close friend of the couple said yesterday: "They have to make sure the twins are protected. That means giving them a stable home life and routine and they can only do that in the UK.

"At home there is a strong support network - with lots of friends and family around to help. They know their home is in Leicestershire."

But Kate has confided in close friends that she cannot face going back to work and wants to become closely involved with charities for missing children.

Their friend said: "She just can't imagine going back to work. She insists that returning to the UK does not mean they are giving up on Madeleine and she wants to work full-time on the campaign.

"She has learnt a lot about missing and exploited children and would like to devote some of her time to working with charities."

Gerry has always argued that it would be easier to run their Find Madeleine campaign from the UK but Kate, 38, has stood firm, saying she feels emotionally close to Madeleine in Portugal.

On Friday the couple broke the news to their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie that their daughter is missing and their mum and dad are "looking for her."

They have still not decided whether to go back to their family home, or sell it because it holds too many memories of Madeleine.

The McCanns' decision to return home comes after Portuguese police chief Alipio Ribeiro said they are working on the "strong hypothesis" she is dead. But he said: "It would be frivolous of me to say we're near the end."

Unconfirmed reports in Portugese newspapers yesterday claimed police are moving in on a new "concrete suspect".

It is claimed "biological traces" were found in a hire car belonging to a man staying at the resort.

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