The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

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Kate McCann and Claudia Lawrence*

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Kate McCann and Claudia Lawrence

Claudia Lawrence was last seen nearing her home in York, on the afternoon of 18 March 2009, as she returned from her work as a chef at the University of York.

Two weeks after the disappearance the McCanns' spokesperson, Clarence Mitchell passes comment on the case.

Two years later Kate McCann sends a letter of support to Claudia's mother, Joan, and attends a vigil at York Cathedral with Claudia's father, Peter.

Chef's family 'going through hell', 01 April 2009
Chef's family 'going through hell' Virgin Media
 
1 April 2009 10:28am
 
The family of missing chef Claudia Lawrence will be going through "absolute hell", the media advisor for Gerry and Kate McCann has said.
 
Clarence Mitchell was speaking exactly two weeks after 35-year-old Miss Lawrence was last seen near her home in York.
 
He said he believed her family, led by her solicitor father Peter Lawrence, was doing the right thing by making sure her image reached as wide an audience as possible while the media spotlight was still so focussed on the case.
 
Mr Mitchell told BBC Radio York: "They'll be going through absolute hell, I'm quite sure.
 
"And everything I've heard from Peter Lawrence in public has been incredibly dignified and composed and I think he's done a remarkable job so far on behalf of the family. Obviously I wish the family well and I hope Claudia is found safe and well very soon."
 
Mr Mitchell, who has been the spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann in their ongoing search for their daughter Madeleine, said the intense media spotlight on Miss Lawrence's family will add to the pressure on them.
 
But he urged them to keep going.
 
"I totally understand the desire of the family to get her image out there, to keep the message alive, to make sure the media are still aware of it," Mr McCann said.
 
He added: "I would generally advise doing it rather than not doing it because media interest waxes and wanes, it comes and goes. And it will only be there for a certain, finite period of time. It's important for the family's own mental wellbeing, as well as the wider search, that Claudia's image is out there and that people are still thinking about her as often as possible."
 
Mr Mitchell said the media focus had moved away from the McCanns as they continued to work through the Portuguese police files on Madeleine's case. But he said he was fully expecting the spotlight to return as the second anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance approached next month.

Claudia Case: How Media Scrutiny Is Vital, 01 April 2009
Claudia Case: How Media Scrutiny Is Vital Sky News

Mark Langford, Sky News Online
10:40am UK, Wednesday April 01, 2009

It is now two weeks since chef Claudia Lawrence was last seen near her home in York, despite a national media campaign to trace her, but experts say the media's help is still vital in a missing persons inquiry.

The police investigation into her whereabouts has seen an appeal on national TV, media interviews with her family and friends and appeals by officers for information.

All, seemingly, to no avail.

Despite an encouraging response to the latest appeal, this time on Crimewatch, with dozens of calls made to the BBC or to the police, there is still no sign of the 35-year-old from York.

So does the massive media scrutiny - with all the pressure it can bring to the family of the missing person - actually achieve anything?

Yes it does, says the man who was the media adviser for the family of Madeleine McCann.

Clarence Mitchell helped Kate and Gerry McCann in the aftermath of their four-year-old daughter's disappearance from the family holiday villa in Portugal in 2007.

Although not involved in the Claudia Lawrence investigation, the former BBC correspondent said the media actually has a big role.

He said: "These days a 'no comment' is really not an option.

"Yes, the media are after a story, but behind it there is always a genuine desire to help.

"The media is an incredible force for good in a missing person investigation. It can act as the eyes and ears of the family.

"There is an understandable temptation for a family to keep their own thoughts private but any family doing that is almost failing the person that is missing.

"The modern media has so many platforms it's imperative that the family in a situation like this engage with it in as wide and effective way as possible."

Media exposure is a help, but it also undoubtedly adds to the emotional pressure cooker in which the family of a missing person finds themselves.

Lucy Holmes, of the charity Missing People, published a report last December called Living In Limbo, which examined the experiences of families of those who disappear.

She said many of those she interviewed referred to being on an emotional roller coaster.

"Families move between feelings of hope that the person will be found soon, to disappointment and anguish every time a new part of the inquiry results in nothing - particularly at times like the person's birthday or at Christmas," she said.

"One person summed it up for me when they said they saw no end in sight, that when they looked into the future they could see no end at all. That is quite scary."

Yet for most, there can be a happy ending.

Lucy said around 210,000 people are reported missing every year. Three-quarters of those are found within two days, and within a year 99 per cent are traced.

"We know from research that about half of one per cent of missing persons cases are found dead. The number that die in unpleasant circumstances is pretty low," she said.

"The most important thing is the police response, and in the case of Claudia Lawrence I am confident they are pulling out all the stops."

'Don't Stop Hoping For Madeleine And Claudia', 12 April 2009
'Don't Stop Hoping For Madeleine And Claudia' Sky News
 
10:30am UK, Sunday April 12, 2009
 
The Archbishop of York has called for renewed hope in the searches for Claudia Lawrence and Madeleine McCann.
 
Dr John Sentamu said he could not imagine the pain and suffering endured by the families of the missing.
 
But he said the Easter celebration of the triumph of life over death should inspire people never to give up hoping they will be found.
 
"In both Claudia and Madeleine's cases, someone knows where they are," Archbishop Sentamu told the News of the World.
 
"The message of Easter is a message of hope, and our hope that those who are lost may yet be found must not be diminished by the lack of media coverage that comes as time passes.
 
"Hope is the enemy of fear and gives birth to both actions and inspiration.
 
"As we celebrate the triumph of life over death in the Easter story, let it inspire us to continue the search for the missing so that we may bring hope to others in our common desire to see these families reunited."
 
The Archbishop's message comes two days after Miss Lawrence's father appealed for help to find his daughter.
 
Peter Lawrence said he was gaining strength from the prayers of those who had faith, and from the compassionate thoughts of those who did not.
 
The York University chef, 35, has not been seen for more than three weeks despite a huge police operation to find her.
 
Miss Lawrence was last seen on the afternoon of March 18 near her home on Heworth Road, York, and has not been in contact with anybody since around 8.30pm that day.
 
Madeleine was three years old when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007.
 
In the same interview, the Archbishop attacked the "glory hunting" decision to stage two Premier League football clashes on Easter Sunday.
 
He said the games between Aston Villa and Everton, and Manchester City and Fulham should be moved to make the day as important as Christmas Day.

Mothers united, 14 February 2011
Mothers united ITV/Yorkshire

By: Christine Talbot
6.00PM Mon Feb 14 2011


The mother of missing Claudia Lawrence has spoken of the bond she has forged with Kate McCann whose three year old daughter, Madeleine, disappeared nearly four years ago.

Joan Lawrence has revealed that the two women have formed a friendship borne out of the shared pain of not knowing what has happened to their daughters.

---------------------

Transcript

By Nigel Moore

Christine Talbot [Presenter, voice over]: Two very different women from different worlds but living the same nightmare.

Joan Lawrence treasures the eight-page letter she recieved recently from Kate McCann. Words of comfort from a woman who understands the daily agony of not knowing what has happened to her daughter.

It's four years, this May, since Madeleine McCann disappeared from the family's holiday apartment in Portugal. Years during which Kate, and her husband Gerry, have fought tirelessly to find her.

Although she wishes her letter to remain essentially private, Mrs McCann urges Joan to stay strong; she tells her she thinks of Claudia, and the Lawrence family, often; she describes how she cannot believe that Madeleine has been taken from her, but she tries to remain positive; she tells Joan only they can know the pain they are both going through; something she wouldn't wish on anybody.

Joan says her words have been a Godsend at a time of need.

Joan Lawrence: I thought, 'here is someone who understands; someone who's been there and, sadly, someone who's still there'. Errm... And it's a huge, huge comfort to me. When I read it, and when I got the letter, I thought, 'Oh, it's wonderful'. It's wonderful to hear from somebody who knows exactly what it's like and this is what's been needed for such a long time.

Christine Talbot: What was it about Kate's letter that reached out to you?

Joan Lawrence: She said that, 'nothing can ease the pain. No matter what you say, it can't ease the suffering' and it's absolutely right, because it's there 24/7. And no matter what you do, our children are on our mind and although Madeleine's young, and Claudia's older, they're still our children and... oh, I just don't know, it's... it's just... it's just very emotional. It... it's helped me so much, it really has.

Christine Talbot [voice over]: It will be Claudia's 37th birthday at the end of this month. Like the McCanns her family has campaigned relentlessly for information that could help find her. Now they're bracing themselves for the second anniversary of her disappearance, in March, two years since she was last seen after leaving her shift as a chef at York university.

Joan has written back to Mrs McCann and the two women are now discussing meeting up and even visiting the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who's been a big supporter of the Lawrence family.

Joan Lawrence: I think no matter what happens, I feel that we'll always be in touch. There are times when I feel that, despite all the people I've got, all the loving friends and family and all the people I've got, sometimes I feel very much alone in this. As though nobody really understands. Now I feel that somebody does understand. Sadly, we're both going to have this in common and I think we'll be able to help each other and I hope we can help some other people because some good's got to come out of this. No matter what happens, some good's got to come out of it.

Archbishop holds Vigil for Claudia Lawrence, Madeleine McCann and all missing persons, 27 February 2011
Archbishop holds Vigil for Claudia Lawrence, Madeleine McCann and all missing persons The Archbishop of York

Sunday 27 February 2011

A candlelit Vigil is to be held in York Minster on Sunday 27th February for all those missing and to mark the 37th Birthday of Claudia Lawrence, the York chef who has been missing for nearly two years.

Claudia Lawrence
Claudia Lawrence

The informal procession will be led by Kate McCann, mother of missing Madeleine McCann and Peter Lawrence, father of missing Claudia Lawrence.

The procession will begin from the Mansion House, St.Helen's Square at 2.30 pm, entering the West Doors of the Minster at 2.45 pm for the short Vigil at the High Altar where candles will be lit. Both the Archbishop of York,  Dr John Sentamu and the Dean of York, The Very Revd Keith Jones will officiate.

Peter Lawrence, Claudia's father, who has searched tirelessly for her and is a member of the York Minster congregation, said "This continues to be a tragedy for all of us who care about and love Claudia but I want this Vigil, not to be just for her, but for others missing, their  relatives, friends and the general public who have been so kind in their support."

The Archbishop of York said, "I hope many people will join us at the Vigil and hold in prayer the families and friends of Claudia Lawrence, and all those who have gone missing as we remember them in our thoughts and prayers."

The Dean of York said, "Through the ages, York Minster has been a focus for pilgrims and others on their journey. I am looking forward to welcoming all those coming for this Vigil for the Missing and hope they find peace and support whilst they are in this holy place."

Martin Dales, Peter Lawrence's friend and spokesman, said, "It is also hoped that even if people can't physically make it to York, they will join us at 2.45 pm from wherever they are and have their own personal silence for Claudia and all those Missing."

Father of missing Claudia Lawrence to lobby MPs, 27 February 2011
Father of missing Claudia Lawrence to lobby MPs Sunday Express

Solicitor Peter Lawrence, 64, wants politicians to consider granting a guardian-style status to relatives

By James Murray and Tracey Kandohla
Sunday February 27,2011

THE father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence will visit the Commons this week to ask MPs and Lords to consider how to help families of missing people.

Solicitor Peter Lawrence, 64, wants politicians to consider granting a guardian-style status to relatives so they can sort out their loved one's financial affairs.

Claudia vanished in York in March 2009 and today, which is Claudia's 37th birthday, a vigil will be held for her at York Minister, led by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu. He will also ask people to remember Madeleine McCann and other missing people.

Mr Lawrence has had to deal with many financial problems on behalf of his daughter.

Through his work with the charity Missing People he knows of the problems faced by others in his situation.

On Tuesday he will address the all-party parliamentary group for runaway and missing children and adults.

Martin Dales, family friend and spokesman, said: "Peter was very able to deal with Claudia's affairs, although he found it upsetting, because he is a solicitor but other families in this awful situation have all sorts of problems and stresses. Peter believes members of both Houses need to address the situation.

"One of the main issues is what happens to a mortgage when a person goes missing and who is responsible for it and the bills.

"Relatives who are emotionally drained and trying to deal with the sudden disappearance of a loved one then have to untangle complex financial issues, which can be daunting and worrying.

"Peter believes there should be a guardianship system to make life easier."

Peter is divorced from Claudia's mother Joan, who has spoken about how she is comforted by Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine vanished from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal in May 2007.

The two mothers, who share the same nightmare, have forged a close bond and hope to meet soon.

General practitioner Kate, 42, has written an eight-page letter to Joan in which she urged her to "stay strong".

Joan, 66, deputy mayor of Malton, North Yorkshire, said Kate's letter was "a huge comfort".

Archbishop holds Vigil for Claudia Lawrence, Madeleine McCann and all missing persons, 27 February 2011
Archbishop holds Vigil for Claudia Lawrence, Madeleine McCann and all missing persons The Archbishop of York

Pictures below subsequently added to article above

Peter Lawrence and Kate McCann lead procession to York Minster (Picture taken 02:05 pm)
Peter Lawrence and Kate McCann lead procession to York Minster

Peter Lawrence and Kate McCann at Vigil (Picture taken 02:11 pm)
Peter Lawrence and Kate McCann at Vigil

Madeleine's mother attends vigil, 27 February 2011
Madeleine's mother attends vigil The Press Association

(UKPA) – 27 February 2011

The mother of missing Madeleine McCann joined Claudia Lawrence's father for a candlelit vigil on Sunday.

Kate McCann walked side by side with the Miss Lawrence's father Peter to the service attended by close to 100 well-wishers at York Minster.

Saturday was the missing chef's 37th birthday.

Mr Lawrence said the ceremony was an opportunity to remember all those affected by the "continuing tragedy" of a missing loved one.

The 64-year-old solicitor, who is a member of the York Minster congregation, thanked Mrs McCann for her support.

He led a procession from the Mansion House, St Helen's Square, to the West Doors of the Minster for a Vigil for the Missing at the high altar. There the Archbishop of York presented each of the parents with a blue candle representing the Virgin Mary.

Mr Lawrence has searched tirelessly for his daughter since her disappearance on March 18, 2009. He said: "This continues to be a tragedy for all of us who care about and love Claudia."

His friend Martin Dales, of Old Malton, North Yorkshire, said it was the first time Mrs McCann and Mr Lawrence had met. He said: "She said the vigil was a very difficult event to deal with. She came into the patch not knowing anybody and we very much appreciated the effort she made.

"She said that even though their daughters were different ages and their circumstances different, she and Peter shared the same fear, pain and hope. She said it was nice to be able to support each other because unless you have been in that situation, it is very difficult to understand."

Archbishop of York The Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu said the ceremony was to let people show their support for the families of Miss Lawrence, Madeleine McCann and others who had gone missing.

Candlelit Vigil Held For Missing Claudia, 27 February 2011
Candlelit Vigil Held For Missing Claudia Sky News

Natalie Fahy, Sky News Online
6:23pm UK, Sunday February 27, 2011

Friends and family of missing chef Claudia Lawrence have held a candlelit vigil to mark her 37th birthday - as detectives admit they are no closer to finding her.

Claudia Lawrence has been missing since March 2009

The service at York Minster was also attended by Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine vanished on holiday in May 2007.

Miss Lawrence's father Peter said the ceremony at York Minster was an opportunity to remember all those affected by the "continuing tragedy" of a missing loved one.

Mr Lawrence led a procession from Mansion House, St Helen's Square, to the West Doors of the Minster for a Vigil for the Missing at the high altar, where candles were lit.

He was joined by the Archbishop of York and the Dean of York for the short service.

Claudia's father Peter has searched tirelessly for his missing daughter

The 64-year-old solicitor said: "This continues to be a tragedy for all of us who care about and love Claudia."

His friend Martin Dales said the vigil was a chance for people to mark Claudia's birthday.

He said: "It certainly does not get any easier and every birthday or Christmas is an extremely tough time for everyone who loves Claudia."

North Yorkshire Police have said investigators are no closer to finding out what has happened to the York University chef.

She has been missing since March 18, 2009.

Kate McCann also attended the service

Detectives involved in the murder inquiry have said that Miss Lawrence's tangled love life, including affairs with married men, has been one of the biggest challenges.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said today: "The investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence is still continuing, although there have been no major developments.

"We would ask anyone with information to contact us."

Birthday vigil for missing Claudia, 27 February 2011
Birthday vigil for missing Claudia York Press

Kate McCann with Peter Lawrence at the candelit vigil for the missing at York Minster

Kate McCann with Peter Lawrence at the candelit vigil for the missing at York Minster

KATE McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged three, lights a candle at York Minster at a vigil held to support the family of missing York woman Claudia Lawrence

KATE McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged three, lights a candle at York Minster at a vigil held to support the family of missing York woman Claudia Lawrence

Kate McCann with Peter Lawrence at the candelit vigil for the missing at York Minster

Kate McCann with Peter Lawrence at the candelit vigil for the missing at York Minster

By Richard Catton
5:31pm Sunday 27th February 2011


THE father of Claudia Lawrence was joined by missing Madeleine McCann's mother for a candlelit vigil in York Minster.

Yesterday was the 37th birthday of the missing York chef, and her father Peter walked side-by-side with Kate McCann and others, through York, to the service for loved ones who have disappeared.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said the ceremony was to let people show their support for the families of Claudia Lawrence, Mrs McCann's daughter, Madeleine and others who had gone missing.

Mr Lawrence, 64, said the vigil was for all missing people and their relatives, friends and the general public.

Looking back over the two years since his daughter disappeared, Mr Lawrence said he was determined to keep Claudia in the public eye.

"It's obviously difficult but I made mind up at the beginning of this that that's what I would do so that's why I am here," he said.

"I am told that information is still trickling in. That's why I'm here saying please give whatever information you have to the police."

He then led a procession from the Mansion House in St Helen's Square, to the West Doors of the Minster for the Vigil at the high altar, where candles were lit.

On marking Claudia's birthday, her friend, Suzy Cooper, said: "It's one of those difficult things, because with it being her birthday you would want her to be there. So maybe we will have a few drinks and just say cheers Claudia."

Mrs McCann said: "Our daughters are different ages and the circumstances are very different but we share the same pain and fear and hope.

"This is actually the first time I have met Peter, I have been in touch with his wife.

"It is nice to be able to support each other because it is one of those things that, unless you have been in that situation it is very difficult to understand.

"The Archbishop, John Sentamu, has also been very supportive. He has never forgotten us."

Meanwhile, a North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "The investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence is still continuing, although there have been no major developments.

"We would ask anyone with information to contact us."

Light of hope: Vigil prayers for Claudia and Madeleine, 27 February 2011
Light of hope: Vigil prayers for Claudia and Madeleine Yorkshire Post

Published on Sun Feb 27 22:31:07 GMT 2011

THE mother of Madeleine McCann joined Claudia Lawrence's father for a candlelit vigil at York Minster yesterday for their missing daughters.

Kate McCann met Peter Lawrence for the first time as they said emotional prayers in the cathedral along with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

A 50-strong congregation gathered for the event which was organised to mark the 37th birthday of Miss Lawrence, although her father had opened up the vigil to all families of missing people.

Mrs McCann, 42, from Rothley in Leicestershire, said: "It is nice to spend some time with some people who are in the same position as you.

"Our daughters are different ages and the circumstances are very different but we share the same pain and fear and hope. The Archbishop has also been very supportive. He has never forgotten us."

Mr Lawrence, 64, a solicitor from Slingsby in North Yorkshire, added: "Today is obviously a special day because it is Claudia's birthday. It is difficult just like Christmas was, but on every occasion we have to make the fact that Claudia is missing apparent."

Madeleine went missing while on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry, in Portugal in 2007. Miss Lawrence was last seen in York on March 18, 2009. North Yorkshire Police officers have since launched a murder inquiry.

Kate McCann lights a candle inside York Minster at a vigil for Claudia Lawrence on her 37th birthday and for Madeleine McCann

Kate McCann lights a candle inside York Minster at a vigil for Claudia Lawrence on her 37th birthday and for Madeleine McCann

Archbishop of York's Prayer for Claudia & Madeleine McCann, 27 February 2011
Archbishop of York's Prayer for Claudia & Madeleine McCann findclaudia.co.uk

 
Archbishop of York's Prayer for Claudia & Madeleine McCann

27 February 2011

Lord, please keep Claudia and Madeleine safe;
take away their fear and anxiety;
guard and protect them.
Hear our cry, Lord.
Amen

United through loss: Kate McCann meets Claudia Lawrence's father for York vigil, 28 February 2011
United through loss: Kate McCann meets Claudia Lawrence's father for York vigil Daily Mail

By James Tozer
Last updated at 1:40 AM on 28th February 2011

Both have endured unimaginable heartache as the fate of their daughters remains a mystery.

And for the first time yesterday, Kate McCann, mother of Madeleine, and the father of Claudia Lawrence met at a vigil for the missing chef.

On what would have been Miss Lawrence's 37th birthday, her father Peter sat with Mrs McCann as 50 friends and family gathered at York Minster, along with Archbishop John Sentamu, to pray for the safe return of their children.

Remembrance: Kate McCann lights a candle at York Minster for her missing daughter Madeleine

Dressed in a black skirt and coat and red scarf, 42-year-old Mrs McCann lit a candle for Madeleine, who vanished aged three in 2007, and spoke of drawing support from meeting someone who knows the pain her family feel.

'It is nice to spend time with people who are in the same position,' she said. 'The circumstances are very different, but we share the same pain and fear and hope.

'Our daughters are different ages and the circumstances are very different but we share the same pain and fear and hope.

'Today is actually the first time I have met Peter, I have been in touch with his wife. It is nice to be able to support each other because it is one of those things that, unless you have been in that situation it is very difficult to understand.

'The Archbishop John Sentamu has also been very supportive. He has never forgotten us.'

Miss Lawrence has been missing since March 2009.

Her 64-year-old father said: 'Today is difficult, just like Christmas, but we have to make the fact that Claudia is missing apparent.'

Missing: The parents of Madeleine McCann (left) and Claudia Lawrence (right) said prayers for their absent loved ones at York Cathedral today

Mr Lawrence, 64, and Mrs McCann, 42, met in the centre of York this afternoon before slowly making their way to the grandiose York Minster. Sadly neither Joan Lawrence or Gerry McCann could make the vigil.

They marched along with family and friends, holding a loft a placard with Claudia's picture on and the question 'Where are you?'

Prior to the vigil, Mr Lawrence said: 'Everything we have done for the past couple of years has been aimed at keeping the fact that Claudia is missing at the front of people's minds. Everything we can do we are trying.

'Today is obviously a special day because it is Claudia's birthday. It is not just for Claudia, we have organised it for other missing people too. Today is difficult, just like Christmas was but on every occasion we have to make the fact that Claudia is missing apparent.

'Kate got in touch when she heard that we were having this event and she said that she wanted to come along. It is nice to raise awareness for both of our daughters and for the families to come together.'

Vigil: Peter Lawrence, father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence, and Madeleine McCann's mother Kate met with Dr John Sentamu for a service at York Minster

Mr Lawrence also confirmed that he intends to address a number of MPs at parliament later this week in relation to the control families have over missing people's financial affairs.

Claudia Lawrence's best friend, Suzy Cooper, also attended the vigil and prior to it said: 'It has been really difficult with today being her birthday and Claudia particularly enjoyed going out on Sundays so she would have been really pleased her birthday was on one today.

Vigil: Kate McCann prayed for missing York chef Claudia Lawrence

'We haven't made any specific plans for her birthday but I think we will have a drink, a meal and a toast to Claudia.'

The group then made their way to York Minster where they were met by Archbishop of York Sentamu and Dean of York Keith Jones.

After the group had made their way inside the stunning building, Archbishop Sentamu addressed the congregation of 50 people, saying: 'We are having a vigil on the 37th birthday of Claudia Lawrence.

'We must keep ourselves remembering that she is still missing. Someone out there knows where she is and in my prayers I hope they will have the courage to come forward.

'It is great that we also have Kate McCann here, Maddie McCann's mother. As you know in this minster, I pray for both her and for Claudia regularly.'

Mrs McCann and Mr Lawrence were then presented with a blue candle each, as a symbol of the Virgin Mary and the joy and pain of motherhood, before a number of prayers were said for Maddie, Ms Lawrence and other missing people.

The parents of Ms Lawrence and Maddie then sat side by side, along with Archbishop Sentamu, with the Minster's great window in the background, and quietly said prayers for their missing daughters.

Maddie McCann and Claudia Lawrence parents' plea, 28 February 2011
Maddie McCann and Claudia Lawrence parents' plea Daily Star

ABOVE: The parents of missing Maddie McCann and chef Claudia Lawrence met at a vigil

By Daily Star Reporter
28th February 2011

THE parents of missing Maddie McCann and chef Claudia Lawrence met at a vigil to appeal for help to find them.

Maddie was three when she vanished in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007. Her mum Kate joined Peter Lawrence at York Minster on the 37th birthday of his daughter Claudia, who disappeared in York in 2009.

Claudia Lawrence's father: I believe my daughter is alive, 04 March 2011
Claudia Lawrence's father: I believe my daughter is alive Daily Express

Claudia Lawrence's father reveals why Madeleine McCann's parents have been a help to him

By Rachel May
Friday March 04,2011

EVERY loving parent holds their child a little tighter at the thought of Claudia Lawrence and others like her who are missing without explanation.

But only those who have experienced the nightmare for themselves can understand the pain that Claudia's father endures two years after the chef disappeared on her way to work.

Which is why last Sunday, on Claudia's 37th birthday, Peter Lawrence met with Kate McCann, the mother of Madeleine who will have been missing for four years this May. Together they prayed in York Minster for their own daughters, for each other's and for the families of missing people everywhere, and found some comfort in the knowledge that someone else is living with the same unbearable sadness.

"On the surface our cases are very different," says the 64-year-old solicitor.

"Madeleine was three when she went missing, Claudia was 35. Madeleine was abroad. Claudia was close to home. But the feeling that any parent has, no matter the child's age or the circumstances of their disappearance, is the same."

The last confirmed sighting of Claudia was at 3pm on March 18, 2009, as she made her way home from her shift as a chef at the University of York. She spoke to her mother later that day, sounding bright and cheerful, but was never heard from again. She failed to arrive for work the next morning although police believe she set off as normal, taking with her a rucksack, her mobile phone and a set of chef's whites.

"In the course of two years, we have ruled out a lot of possibilities," says Peter. "All I'm left with is that she went to work that morning and was taken by someone – someone she vaguely knew, I expect. There is no respite from the feeling that someone essential to your life is missing and they shouldn't be. You feel their loss constantly, every day and at every occasion. They should be there."

When Peter's elder daughter Ali held her 40th birthday party at home at the end of January, Claudia's absence was felt especially keenly.

"There are always events that keep it right there at the front of your mind," he says. "It is emotionally draining and I don't think that changes over time. Perhaps the emotions feel less raw but time doesn't make it any less of a strain."

Cases like that of Joanna Yeates, the 25-year-old who went missing in Bristol last December and whose body was found on Christmas morning, rake up painful memories for the Lawrence family and every other family who has ever been in the same terrible position.

"We wrote to Joanna's parents expressing our concern because we knew how they must have been feeling," says Peter, who lives in Slingsby, Yorkshire. "In Joanna's case her body was found reasonably quickly. When any body is found part of me thinks it  could be Claudia. Bodies have been found near York and, of course, they have turned out not to be her. But you get that feeling every time."

Until Claudia's body is found, or any evidence arises to suggest she is dead, Peter and ex-wife Joan – like the McCanns – will continue to believe their daughter is alive, somewhere. It is clear that strong religious faith has given both families strength.

"I have always said that if Claudia had died at any stage in these past two years I would have felt it," says Peter. "The Archbishop of York, who led prayers on Sunday, believes that too. And I'm sure Kate and Gerry McCann feel the same." Where there is life there is hope, or as Peter puts it:

"In these circumstances we must believe that where there is no proof to the contrary, there is hope of life."

There have been claims focusing on Claudia's private life that Peter calls "completely unhelpful". His comment was prompted by an appearance on BBC1's Crimewatch in June 2009 by Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, the officer leading the investigation, in which he said "some [of Claudia's] relationships had elements of complexity and mystery".

Peter says: "It may have been a good story but it is completely unhelpful and untrue. It is so frustrating when you're trying to get to the truth of what happened."

But he adds: "In the main the press have been very good to us. And anything that keeps people thinking about Claudia and about anything they might know that could lead to a breakthrough is absolutely crucial." Last autumn the investigation was scaled down.

Not, insists Peter, due to police cutbacks but because there were not enough fresh leads coming in to justify a large, dedicated team. Yet he is reassured to know that there are still potentially valuable pieces of information trickling in. These may come from members of the public or other sources, including investigations under way elsewhere.

"But it's true to say they are not coming in the volume they did at first," says Peter, who intends to stage another public event to mark the second anniversary of Claudia's disappearance on March 18.

In the meantime he aims to use his experience to help families of missing people. Earlier this week he addressed the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults about the difficulties relatives face in dealing with the financial affairs of their missing loved ones.

More than 250,000 people are reported missing in the UK every year yet there is no law in place that makes it easy for their families to assume responsibility for their affairs in their absence.

"It's something you'd probably never consider a problem unless you found yourself in that situation," says Peter. "But thousands of families of missing adults cannot deal with the practical and legal issues that their missing relatives leave  behind. Mortgages, banks, car insurance, telephone contracts – every practical aspect of adult life is just left hanging in the air.

"You make endless phone calls to explain the situation and all you get is 'You're not our customer', 'You're not our policy holder', 'We will need a signature from the account holder' – even though they know it's impossible. It's extremely frustrating and it happens when people are at their very lowest emotional ebb."

The committee agreed to set up a parliamentary inquiry. It is clear that after years of slow progress in the search for Claudia there is some satisfaction for him in achieving this step which may lead to the  establishment of a Presumption of Death Act in England and Wales with no minimum time before relatives can apply for a declaration.

"They're not kicking it into the long grass," he says. "The inquiry team will gather evidence from politicians, police, bankers, mortgage companies, utilities companies and, of course, families."

But what is equally important to him is that people who don't know what happened to a loved one are properly supported. He says: "At the meeting we discussed the fact that victims of even the most minor crimes are routinely offered victim support. The chief executive of Missing People said that when his sunglasses were stolen the police issued him with a pack detailing all the publicly funded services he was entitled to access to help him recover from the stress. Yet if someone goes missing, you get absolutely nothing. Missing People, the charity, have a 24-hour support line. But one has to wonder why there isn't anything more than that available to us."

Despite his dedication to this cause Peter's focus on one goal is unwavering: to find Claudia. And at the two-year mark he admits that the future of the investigation is dependent on the emergence of fresh information.

"Somebody must at some stage come forward with this information. We are completely at their mercy as there is no other realistic course as far as I can see."

There is the possibility that evidence may link Claudia's disappearance to others in the future which may in turn provide answers. "That feels like a straw in the wind at the moment," he says. "But it does happen occasionally."

The Lawrence family's best hope lies with the public. "We know that someone out there knows something significant, even if they haven't realised it yet.

"It is hard to describe how it makes me feel to know that the truth is out there," he says. "It's sometimes annoying, sometimes deeply distressing. But it's also what keeps us going."

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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