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

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details campaign@findmadeleine.com    

Church at Praia da Luz *

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Maddie: The lost clues, 29 April 2012
Maddie: The lost clues Sunday Express (paper edition)

Sunday Express, 29 April 2012

 

McCanns' lawyer lifts the lid on promising leads police ignored

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

Madeleine McCann: The lost clues Sunday Express

Madeleine McCann as she might look today at nearly 9 years old

By James Murray
Sunday April 29,2012

CRUCIAL leads that could solve the mystery of Madeleine McCann's disappearance are revealed today by the Sunday Express.

These vital clues were never followed up by the ­Portuguese police, according to Isabel Duarte, the ­Lisbon lawyer acting for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

Shortly after Madeleine was taken from Apartment 5A at the Ocean Club at Praia da Luz, five years ago this Thursday, a sniffer dog picked up her scent at a nearby car park.

Mrs Duarte said: "This was a significant moment at a critical time, yet there is very ­little about it in the police files. There doesn't appear to have been any forensic work at the spot in the car park identified by the dog. More work should have been done."

Scotland Yard last week identified 195 leads needing further investigation, but Portuguese law officials then announced they had no plans to reopen the case.

One witness described seeing a small grey car parked near the McCanns' apartment but it is not apparent from the files whether the owner of the vehicle has been identified and ruled out.

Mrs Duarte said: "Another very important lead was the sighting by a schoolgirl of a man looking at Apartment 5A. That man has not been traced, despite a good description from the girl. It is very frustrating coming across these leads and then knowing the position of the Portuguese police."

Mrs Duarte said she knew that three phone companies had provided police with lists of all calls made by people in the vicinity of the holiday apartment before, during and after the night when Madeleine was taken shortly before her fourth birthday.

She said: "There were some 70,000 calls on the documents provided to the officers but I do not believe they have ever been properly analysed. It would be good if they did that now, concentrating particularly on the calls made late in the evening after Madeleine was taken on May 3, 2007. It would be interesting to see if any patterns emerged in the calls."

The Sunday Express can reveal that a British woman staying at the Ocean Club saw a "suspicious" couple loitering around the complex. On May 2, the day before Madeleine vanished, the woman saw the couple sitting on a hill overlooking tennis courts used by Kate and Gerry.

Just by the courts is a grassy area where the couple, Madeleine and twins Sean and Amelie, played regularly in the afternoons.

The woman, whose toddler daughter became friendly with Madeleine at the children's club, said the suspicious woman was talking and pointing while the man with her looked "nervous".

The following day at 1.30pm she saw the same couple standing near her apartment at the holiday complex and later told the McCanns' private investigators that she thought their behaviour was "suspicious".

It is not believed that the couple have been traced or identified.

Three years ago the Sunday Express revealed an elderly British woman living in Praia da Luz saw a Portuguese-looking woman hanging around outside the McCanns' apartment about an hour before the abduction. Astonishingly, the woman has never given a statement to police.

Despite the scores of leads which have not been investigated properly, Portuguese Attorney General Pinto Monteiro dashed the McCanns' hopes last week by saying the case would not be officially reopened, adding that no "credible" new facts had emerged during Scotland Yard's year-long £2million investigative review of all known evidence.

Portuguese officers in Porto in northern Portugal have for some months been conducting a cold case review, liaising with Scotland Yard, but they are not making fresh inquiries.

Porto is a six-hour drive from Praia da Luz and it is not thought that any of the officers doing the review work have been active in Luz.

As the Yard unveiled a new "age progression" image of how Madeleine looks now, just before what would be her ninth birthday on May 12, there was no activity at all at the Policia Judiciaria headquarters in Porto last Wednesday.

As it was a national holiday the woman in charge of the Madeleine case, Helena Monteiro, was not even at her desk. She refused to give an interview and referred all inquiries to police in Lisbon.

At one point a noticeboard with the new image of Madeleine on it was seen being moved into a large office but one officer there said: "This is not a major investigation for us."

In a fresh blow to the McCanns, Mrs Duarte will tomorrow hand back almost 8,000 confiscated copies of a book by Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese police chief sacked for criticising British police five months after the crime.

Mr Amaral alleges in his book that Madeleine died in Apartment 5A, a claim clearly rejected by Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who said last week that Madeleine could still be alive.

The book, called The Truth Of The Lie, was taken off the shelves in Portugal, after 180,000 copies had been sold, following legal action by the McCanns in Lisbon's civil courts.

However, Mr Amaral won an appeal to get his books back on sale on the grounds of his right to freedom of speech and the deadline for Mrs Duarte to return the seized copies is tomorrow.

Mrs Duarte, 58, a widow whose late husband Celestino Amaral was a celebrated and widely respected investigative journalist, said: "I tried my very best to stop the book being published but I will do what the court orders and copies will be able to be sold again next week. Mr Amaral has a very narrow view of the case which in our view is completely wrong."

In September she will be back in the civil courts in Lisbon for the McCanns seeking more than £1million in compensation in a defamation case against him.

She said: "Every one of the books sold will increase the amount of damages that we will be seeking from him."

Mr Amaral is reportedly divorcing his wife Sofia, who lives in Portimao, 12 miles from Luz on the Algarve, and now lives with his elderly father in Lisbon while pursuing a new career as a crime author.

Mrs Duarte said: "My view is that Madeleine could still be alive and every effort should be made to try to find her. I will do everything I can to help my clients to that end.

"Mr Amaral's thesis does not help, but a lot of people in Portugal support the McCanns and want the case solved. Scotland Yard is very well respected and people want their detectives to work with our police. It is so frustrating, especially for my clients, when matters are not pursued over here. However, the Yard involvement has given them new hope."

Mr Amaral yesterday backed calls for the case to be reopened. "We were always against the closing of the case. It should be reopened," he said.

Madeleine: She is alive, 26 April 2012
Madeleine: She is alive Daily Express (paper edition)

Daily Express, 26 April 2012

 

Scotland Yard have 195 new leads and want case reopened

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

Madeleine McCann: She is alive Daily Express

DCI Andy Redwood (screenshot from ITN video)
DCI Andy Redwood (screenshot from ITN video)

By John Twomey
Thursday April 26 2012

MADELEINE McCANN could be alive and in the clutches of a kidnapper, Scotland Yard detectives claimed yesterday.

Renewed hope that Madeleine will be found emerged as a haunting image – showing how she might look on her ninth birthday – was released by police.

Parents Kate and Gerry said they "hoped and prayed" the photograph could provide the breakthrough which will reunite them with their daughter after five years of agony.

As she gazed at the picture, Mrs McCann revealed she could see Madeleine in the image as well as herself and her two other children.

The picture was released as the head of the Scotland Yard team reviewing the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance said they have identified 195 potential new leads and want the case reopened.

Although police cannot rule out the chance that Madeleine  is dead, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said: "We genuinely believe there is a possibility she is alive.

"Following a forensic analysis of the time line, I am satisfied there was an opportunity for Madeleine to be taken as part of a criminal act – abduction by a stranger. There are cases where young people have been taken and found alive years later."

Madeleine vanished from a flat during a family holiday in Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve coast on May 3, 2007. She was just three at the time and will be nine on May 12.

As a result of the success of the Yard's review, pressure is now on the Portuguese authorities to formally re-open the investigation into her disappearance which was "archived" in 2008.

David Cameron is being kept up to date with the progress of the Yard inquiry.

The review, codenamed Operation Grange, was launched in May last year after the McCanns urged the Prime Minister to intervene.

The Portuguese Policia Judiciaria set up its review team in March. Mr Redwood and his squad, who have made several visits to Portugal and Spain, are working closely with them.

Yesterday, the head of Operation Grange made a direct appeal to anyone who was at the Mark Warner Ocean Club in Praia da Luz between April 28 and May 3, 2007 who has not been spoken to by Portuguese or British police to contact the Yard.

Mr Redwood said his 37-strong squad is now a quarter of the way through a painstaking examination of 40,000 pieces of information, making up around 100,000 documents. So far, 195 "investigative possibilities" have been identified along with genuine, new information.

Mr Redwood declined to go into any detail but described it as "filling in gaps". One of the gaps was a failure to trace and interview all the holidaymakers rather than just the British.

The background of staff and former staff who knew the layout of the resort is not believed to have been adequately checked.

It is understood police are basing their belief that Madeleine may still be alive on more than an examination of the time line leading up to her disappearance.

More potential leads are set to be uncovered during the inquiry which has so far cost £2million.

Mr Redwood said: "From the outset we have approached this review with a completely open mind, placing Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do.

"We are working on the basis of two possibilities here.

"One is that Madeleine is still alive and the second that she is sadly dead.

"Based on the former, we are releasing the age-progression image today with a specific appeal.

"If you know where Madeleine McCann is now or you have new direct information or evidence about what has happened to her then please contact us."

Mr Redwood said Operation Grange had brought together three strands of investigation into Madeleine's disappearance – the Portuguese and British law enforcement inquiries and the work by private investigators employed by the McCanns.

The detectives, based at Belgravia police station, are working closely with the McCanns who have been given their own family liaison officer.

The spokesman for the McCanns, of Rothley, Leics, said the couple were pleased with the result of the "age-progression" image which was generated by UK expert Teri Blythe, a specialist in human identification and forensic art.

She said: "Kate and Gerry see a strong family resemblance in the picture. This is an important step forward and could lead to a breakthrough. They are very pleased with the momentum this has given to finding her."

The McCanns, who are both doctors, have never given up hope that they will be reunited with Madeleine.

Anyone wishing to contact Scotland Yard should ring 0800 0961011. The number for non- UK residents is +44 2071580 126. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Maddie: The lost clues, 29 April 2012
Maddie: The lost clues Sunday Express (paper edition)

Sunday Express, 29 April 2012

 

McCanns' lawyer lifts the lid on promising leads police ignored

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

Madeleine McCann: The lost clues Sunday Express

Madeleine McCann as she might look today at nearly 9 years old

By James Murray
Sunday April 29,2012

CRUCIAL leads that could solve the mystery of Madeleine McCann's disappearance are revealed today by the Sunday Express.

These vital clues were never followed up by the ­Portuguese police, according to Isabel Duarte, the ­Lisbon lawyer acting for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

Shortly after Madeleine was taken from Apartment 5A at the Ocean Club at Praia da Luz, five years ago this Thursday, a sniffer dog picked up her scent at a nearby car park.

Mrs Duarte said: "This was a significant moment at a critical time, yet there is very ­little about it in the police files. There doesn't appear to have been any forensic work at the spot in the car park identified by the dog. More work should have been done."

Scotland Yard last week identified 195 leads needing further investigation, but Portuguese law officials then announced they had no plans to reopen the case.

One witness described seeing a small grey car parked near the McCanns' apartment but it is not apparent from the files whether the owner of the vehicle has been identified and ruled out.

Mrs Duarte said: "Another very important lead was the sighting by a schoolgirl of a man looking at Apartment 5A. That man has not been traced, despite a good description from the girl. It is very frustrating coming across these leads and then knowing the position of the Portuguese police."

Mrs Duarte said she knew that three phone companies had provided police with lists of all calls made by people in the vicinity of the holiday apartment before, during and after the night when Madeleine was taken shortly before her fourth birthday.

She said: "There were some 70,000 calls on the documents provided to the officers but I do not believe they have ever been properly analysed. It would be good if they did that now, concentrating particularly on the calls made late in the evening after Madeleine was taken on May 3, 2007. It would be interesting to see if any patterns emerged in the calls."

The Sunday Express can reveal that a British woman staying at the Ocean Club saw a "suspicious" couple loitering around the complex. On May 2, the day before Madeleine vanished, the woman saw the couple sitting on a hill overlooking tennis courts used by Kate and Gerry.

Just by the courts is a grassy area where the couple, Madeleine and twins Sean and Amelie, played regularly in the afternoons.

The woman, whose toddler daughter became friendly with Madeleine at the children's club, said the suspicious woman was talking and pointing while the man with her looked "nervous".

The following day at 1.30pm she saw the same couple standing near her apartment at the holiday complex and later told the McCanns' private investigators that she thought their behaviour was "suspicious".

It is not believed that the couple have been traced or identified.

Three years ago the Sunday Express revealed an elderly British woman living in Praia da Luz saw a Portuguese-looking woman hanging around outside the McCanns' apartment about an hour before the abduction. Astonishingly, the woman has never given a statement to police.

Despite the scores of leads which have not been investigated properly, Portuguese Attorney General Pinto Monteiro dashed the McCanns' hopes last week by saying the case would not be officially reopened, adding that no "credible" new facts had emerged during Scotland Yard's year-long £2million investigative review of all known evidence.

Portuguese officers in Porto in northern Portugal have for some months been conducting a cold case review, liaising with Scotland Yard, but they are not making fresh inquiries.

Porto is a six-hour drive from Praia da Luz and it is not thought that any of the officers doing the review work have been active in Luz.

As the Yard unveiled a new "age progression" image of how Madeleine looks now, just before what would be her ninth birthday on May 12, there was no activity at all at the Policia Judiciaria headquarters in Porto last Wednesday.

As it was a national holiday the woman in charge of the Madeleine case, Helena Monteiro, was not even at her desk. She refused to give an interview and referred all inquiries to police in Lisbon.

At one point a noticeboard with the new image of Madeleine on it was seen being moved into a large office but one officer there said: "This is not a major investigation for us."

In a fresh blow to the McCanns, Mrs Duarte will tomorrow hand back almost 8,000 confiscated copies of a book by Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese police chief sacked for criticising British police five months after the crime.

Mr Amaral alleges in his book that Madeleine died in Apartment 5A, a claim clearly rejected by Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who said last week that Madeleine could still be alive.

The book, called The Truth Of The Lie, was taken off the shelves in Portugal, after 180,000 copies had been sold, following legal action by the McCanns in Lisbon's civil courts.

However, Mr Amaral won an appeal to get his books back on sale on the grounds of his right to freedom of speech and the deadline for Mrs Duarte to return the seized copies is tomorrow.

Mrs Duarte, 58, a widow whose late husband Celestino Amaral was a celebrated and widely respected investigative journalist, said: "I tried my very best to stop the book being published but I will do what the court orders and copies will be able to be sold again next week. Mr Amaral has a very narrow view of the case which in our view is completely wrong."

In September she will be back in the civil courts in Lisbon for the McCanns seeking more than £1million in compensation in a defamation case against him.

She said: "Every one of the books sold will increase the amount of damages that we will be seeking from him."

Mr Amaral is reportedly divorcing his wife Sofia, who lives in Portimao, 12 miles from Luz on the Algarve, and now lives with his elderly father in Lisbon while pursuing a new career as a crime author.

Mrs Duarte said: "My view is that Madeleine could still be alive and every effort should be made to try to find her. I will do everything I can to help my clients to that end.

"Mr Amaral's thesis does not help, but a lot of people in Portugal support the McCanns and want the case solved. Scotland Yard is very well respected and people want their detectives to work with our police. It is so frustrating, especially for my clients, when matters are not pursued over here. However, the Yard involvement has given them new hope."

Mr Amaral yesterday backed calls for the case to be reopened. "We were always against the closing of the case. It should be reopened," he said.

Maddie: English police want to "impose abduction theory", 26 April 2012
Maddie: English police want to "impose abduction theory" TVI24

26 April 2012
With thanks to
Astro for translation

In an interview given to TVI, Gonçalo Amaral defends the reopening of the process - but without limits

Gonçalo Amaral defended that the investigation process into the disappearance should be reopened, yet adds that the English police want the reopening, but with the imposition of limiting the investigation to the abduction theory.

"They speak about sightings, about visions by mediums. A lot of things have been produced over the years and well produced and therefore the English police has to pass the ball to the Portuguese police and we are left with the onus and the expense of investigating. It is important to reopen the process, nobody should doubt that, but to reopen the process without limitations, the way they want to limit us," the former Judiciary Police inspector explained.

"They want to impose an abduction", he stated in an interview to TVI.

Gonçalo Amaral further said that the fault of not knowing what happened to Maddie yet is ours. "It's been five years and we still do not know what happened to this child and it is our fault. The fault of our justice system, of our Attorney General who allowed this investigation to be shelved", he said, justifying the fact because we are "Portuguese and they are English, we are small and they are big. That is what is happening."

"The investigation was never allowed to arrive at an end," he stressed, admitting that he has no doubt that there was political pressure.

Concerning what happened to the English girl, Gonçalo Amaral stated that he has his opinion. "In my opinion, she is dead."

Lastly, the former inspector further accused the Judiciary police of internally persecuting his colleagues that remain by his side.

 
Daily Mirror, 25 April 2012

McCanns 'trying to lead normal life', 08 September 2007
McCanns 'trying to lead normal life' breakingnews.ie
 
08/09/2007 - 15:34:31
 
Kate and Gerry McCann were keen to portray a picture of normal family life in Portugal today despite being named as formal suspects over the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.
 
As media interest in the case intensified this weekend, the couple remained inside their rented house in the village of Praia da Luz with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.
 
Close family members have flown out to the Algarve to support them as Portuguese police designated them as "arguidos", or formal suspects.
 
Mr McCann's mother, Eileen, and his sister, Trisha Cameron, were already in Portugal when police summoned the couple back to face further questions on Monday.
 
Mrs Cameron's husband, Sandy, and Mrs McCann's cousin, Michael White, have since joined them.
 
A family friend said today: "They are trying to keep as normal a life as possible.
 
"This morning they had breakfast together as one big family – there were various discussions about pussy cats being on t-shirts."
 
The McCanns have regularly visited Praia da Luz's village church of Nossa Senhora da Luz to pray for their daughter's safe return, and had planned to attend a special ecumenical service there tonight.
 
But they decided to stay at home all weekend after being made arguidos yesterday, fearing that the rekindled media interest in them could upset other worshippers.
 
Most of the journalists waiting outside the police station in Portimao yesterday have now moved to outside the McCanns' house in Praia da Luz.
 
Satellite trucks line the roads around the villa, and photographers and TV crews jostle for position outside the front gates.
 
The couple have also received great support from the wife of the local Anglican priest, Haynes Hubbard.
 
Susan Hubbard, who has children of a similar age to the twins, comforted Mrs McCann after her gruelling interview yesterday.
 
And she visited the McCanns' house this morning to show her support, taking them some chocolate croissants.

'I was deceived' says the Portuguese priest who comforted Gerry and Kate McCann, 18 October 2007
'I was deceived' says the Portuguese priest who comforted Gerry and Kate McCann Daily Mail
 
Last updated at 10:03 18 October 2007
 
The Portuguese priest who comforted Gerry and Kate McCann in the days after Madeleine vanished last night said he had been deceived, it has emerged.
 
According to reports, Father Jose Manuel Pacheco claimed he had done nothing wrong and was simply "supporting two lost souls."
 
But, bizarrely, he also appeared to say he had been the victim of some form of deception.
 
It has also emerged Father Pacheco was apparently called in to see his superior, Algarve Bishop Manuel Quintas and warned about his behaviour.
 
In the days after Madeleine vanished on May 3, the McCanns, both 39 and devout Catholics, frequently sought refuge at the priest's church.
 
They became so close to Father Pacheco, he gave them the keys to the tiny building so they could go in to pray whenever they liked.
 
However, his friendship with the couple appeared to spectacularly backfire after police became convinced Kate had told him she had killed her daughter during confession.
 
But he has vowed to take whatever she had said to the grave, despite being quizzed by detectives.
 
Father Pacheco appeared to virtually vanish from the public eye in the weeks after Gerry and Kate were made arguidos - or official suspects.
 
The pair left Portugal without saying goodbye and handed the church keys to another clergyman.
 
Last week, police moved in to search the churchyard and there has been some suggestion that they may consider digging for Madeleine's body at the location.
 
Father Pacheco, runs two churches and teaches at three local schools, yesterday broke his silence.
 
According to the Daily Express, he admitted he had become too close to the couple, still official suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.
 
"I was deceived," he said.
 
"I was just doing my job supporting lost souls. I would do that with any family who were in their situation. I didn't do anything wrong.
 
Father Pacheco, 46, said he had felt compelled to help Kate and Gerry because of their "inconsolable grief".

Standing Firm Beside The McCanns, 27 February 2008
Standing Firm Beside The McCanns Sky News

Father Haynes Hubbard
Father Haynes Hubbard

Kate Sullivan, Sky News Online, Portugal
11:41am UK, Wednesday February 27, 2008
 
In the four months since Madeleine disappeared, Father Haynes Hubbard has become an expert at giving television interviews.
 
"Give me some level," the cameraman asked him. And he knew exactly what was needed.
 
"Five, six, seven, eight, nine?" he replied as the microphone picked up his gentle voice.
 
But just as Father Hubbard's interview was about to start inside the church where the McCanns have been praying for their daughter, there was a problem: no tape in the camera.
 
"Oh Jesus," said the cameraman, instantly realising his mistake. Father Hubbard turned away.
 
Back on track just a minute later and there was another halt to proceedings. Of all people, here were the Girl Guides saying they needed to clean the church.
 
"We have to respect that," the Father said.
 
And so the interview was moved outside, into the burning afternoon sun.
 
By this time a crowd had gathered, waiting to see if they could pick up any hint of another development in the case, and drawn by the smattering of media.
 
But Father Hubbard didn't even blink at the attention.
 
In his thoughtful, calm manner he tapped his fingers before answering almost every question.
 
He was careful of what he said, knowing by now that something that sounds perfectly innocent in speech can sometimes make an eye-catching headline when written down or on camera.
 
He proves unswerving in his support for the McCanns.
 
"The whole idea of what the police are suggesting sounds preposterous to me," he said. "The people I know have not harmed their child."
 
And he should know. Father Hubbard has become a close friend of the McCanns through their ordeal.
 
"Their sadness has become our sadness," he told Sky News Online. "They are part of our family here - not strangers or pariahs. Like our sister and our brother as Madeleine is like our daughter."
 
His wife Susan has spent much time with the couple, helping them to look after their twins when they have needed to be elsewhere.
 
"We stand with them throughout, whatever happens," the priest added.
 
Father Hubbard says the couple are dealing with the latest developments "as well as you or I would face this situation".
 
And asked what he thought of the criticism levelled at the McCanns for showing little emotion, he responded bluntly: "I'm not sure what people are wanting.
 
"Weeping in public won't bring Madeleine back. But speaking, asserting, asking and begging might change a heart somewhere."

Missing Madeleine, 02 May 2008
Missing Madeleine CBC News
 
Vanished on holiday
 
NANCY DURHAM
May 2, 2008
 
One year ago, Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday on Portugal's Algarve coast turned into a nightmare. On the second-last night of their vacation, the McCanns, from Leicestershire, England, put their three children to bed: Madeleine, nearly four, and two-year-old twins Sean and Emilie. Then they walked 50 metres to dine at a tapas bar, which is part of the Ocean Club complex in Praia de Luz where they were staying with friends. The couples took turns checking on each other's children every 30 minutes or so. At around 10 p.m., Kate McCann discovered Madeleine missing from her bed.

Father Haynes Hubbard, senior chaplain for the Algarve Anglican Church, seen here in Our Lady of Light Church, Praia de Luz. (Nancy Durham/CBC)
Father Haynes Hubbard

 

In the year since the 3-year-old girl disappeared on May 3, 2007, a Canadian couple has been playing a crucial role of support in the lives of Kate and Gerry McCann.
 
The Hubbards – Haynes, an Anglican priest who was about to take up a new post as senior chaplain for the Algarve Anglican Church, and Susan, a midwife – arrived in Praia de Luz three days after Madeleine's disappearance. The town was in chaos as police combed the area looking for the missing British girl, reporters jostled for interviews and helicopters circled in the sky. This was no longer the peaceful tourist town the couple remembered from a previous visit when Haynes temporarily filled the role of Anglican chaplain in the former fishing village. Now he was arriving to take on the job full time.
 
God brought us here
 
The Hubbards appear to have had enough of reporters. Yet they agree to open their door to another inquisitive stranger for one reason only: because there's a chance that giving another interview just might help find the little girl they've never met.
 
The Hubbards now believe Madeleine's disappearance is the reason they were "called" to Portugal. Susan remembers the moment it hit her.
 
"It wasn't until months later, when I saw really why God had brought us here, that I was awestruck that he confirmed we were to be here before we even set foot in our town of Praia de Luz," she says. "For me, he confirmed it on the plane … the fact that there was a child missing here gave us our first mission before we even set foot in the place."
 
Hold on to your baby
 
Their arrival was unnerving. When their plane landed in Lisbon, Susan was warned.
 
"This old woman grabbed me, and I was holding on to our five-month-old son, Caspian, and she grabbed my arm and spoke to me in Portuguese: 'Hold on to your baby; there's been an English child taken.'"
 
At first, Susan double-locked the doors and windows to keep their three children safe. Caspian has an older sister, Gabriela, 9, and brother, Sebastian, now 10. Soon, the family relaxed, and Haynes, too, saw this was the place they were meant to be.
 
"It was pretty clear that He was using us, of the same age [as the McCanns] and with small children and Susan speaking Portuguese … and being able to relate to them in a tiny way, to lead them in prayer and just to walk with them," he said.
 
Haynes Hubbard loves travel, so when it was time to move on from his Dunnville, Ont., parish, he and Susan saw the job opening in Praia de Luz as an opportunity. Haynes says he felt a little guilty "in terms of my ministry, wanting to travel," but a friend encouraged him to see it as a gift, pointing out that he could be useful abroad.
 
Rural Ontario roots
 
It's hard to imagine a couple better suited to extend the hand of friendship to Kate and Gerry McCann, who are also devout Christians. Although the McCanns are Roman Catholic, in this seaside town, the lines between Catholic and Protestant are blurred. Both faiths share the pretty, white and mustard yellow-trimmed church, Our Lady of Light, which sits just above the shimmering beach in the town centre.
 
The McCanns were soon attending Haynes Hubbard's weekly services, and Susan Hubbard reached out to Kate McCann. In keeping with her rural Ontario upbringing, she made her approach in that very Canadian way of offering food.
 
"It's something my mother would always do, being a part of the church community in Canada," Susan said.
 
More gifts of food followed, and notes, and soon a warm friendship between Susan Hubbard and Kate McCann began.
 
Susan wants it known that their friendship is not one-sided. She describes how throughout the McCanns' own desperate ordeal, Kate inquired about the Hubbards' children.
 
"That's how she is," Susan said. "In the middle of her grief, she still is such a caring, loving friend."
 
In fact, Susan says, it was the McCanns who helped the Hubbards settle in to their new parish. Susan has visited the McCanns since their return to England last September, and the two women keep in close touch through text messages and e-mail.
 
'Pray for me'

Susan Hubbard, right, with son Caspian and church helper Fernanda Nascimento, who says she also prays for Madeleine, in a Praia de Luz market. (Nancy Durham/CBC)
Susan Hubbard (right)

The Hubbards have faithfully stood by the McCanns throughout their ordeal, and they continue to do so. They hold weekly vigils for Madeleine in Our Lady of Light. A photograph of the little girl's smiling face is on the wall by the altar. Beside it, the words "pray for me" are written.
 
Sightings of Madeleine have been reported across Europe and as far away as Australia, each one turning out to be a disappointment. At summer's end last year, and with no clue to Madeleine's disappearance, the Portuguese police named her parents as suspects, which in Portugal allows police to question witnesses more thoroughly.
 
No charges have been laid against the McCanns, but British tabloid newspapers turned on the couple, printing dozens of false stories filled with rumour and innuendo suggesting they were responsible for their daughter's disappearance. The McCanns sued, and in March, the Express newspaper group paid more than $1 million in damages to the couple and printed front-page apologies. The McCanns are using the funds to support their campaign to find Madeleine as well as to launch a program in Europe similar to the North American Amber Alert system used to find missing children.
 
The Hubbards, like the McCanns, believe Madeleine may well be alive, and they pray for her safe return. The Hubbards' faith in God is unwavering, though Susan Hubbard wonders "why our prayers haven't been answered."
 
"I don't understand that," she says. "I've seen the letters come into their home and their hands. How could so many people be praying for the exact same thing and it not happen? It's hard."

1637: St Vincent's, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal, 19 October 2008
1637: St Vincent's, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal Ship of Fools: The Mystery Worshipper

St Vincent's, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal

 

Mystery Worshipper: Chris Teean.
The church:
St Vincent's, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese in Europe.

The building: The church is actually the Roman Catholic church of Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of Light); St Vincent's Anglican congregation uses it with the gracious permission of the Portuguese Catholics. It is a squat whitewashed building with a bell tower. The body consists of a simple nave with whitewashed walls and small windows up near the wooden vaulted ceiling, with stations of the cross under the windows. On entering, the first thing you notice is a large golden altar in a stone archway containing a central statue of Mary carrying baby Jesus flanked by two other statues which appear to be a knight in armour and a priest. To the right of the altar is a large crucifix; to the left is a lectern with the sanctuary light hanging behind it. At the back of the church is a small gallery with a circular window.
 
The church: The chaplaincy of St Vincent's stretches along the entire south coast of Portugal, known as the Algarve, and comprises three churches situated at Praia da Luz, Almancil and Gorjoes. At this particular church, the Roman Catholics hold their services in Portuguese and English and St Vincent's celebrates two holy communion services each Sunday and one on Thursdays. St Vincent's has other weekly meetings such as Kids Club, Bible study, prayer group meetings, and a choir practice. When I looked in the pew sheet at the names of readers, sidesmen and other officials, I noticed some names that seemed to be Dutch, Scandinavian or Germanic as well as English; so it appears that they minister to people from a very broad range of traditions. On the third Friday of each month there is a Vigil for Missing Children (Portuguese and English). I presume this started with the tragic disappearance of the English toddler Madeline McCann in May 2007. I sincerely pray that she is discovered unharmed and returned to her desperate parents as soon as possible.

The neighbourhood: Praia da Luz was originally a small fishing village with little white fishermen's cottages and cobbled streets. It has expanded considerably since the 1960s and is now a sprawl of villas and apartments. It is adjacent to the very picturesque beach of Praia da Luz, a golden sandy beach with deep orange cliffs on either side leading to an azure calm sea. There is a promenade complete with palm trees and benches backed by a cluster of cafes, bars and restaurants. Besides being a holiday resort, Praia da Luz is also home to many ex-pats from the UK, Scandinavia and Germany. The village has an air of tranquility and contentment, but it perhaps becomes livelier at the height of the holiday season in July and August. Opposite the church is the Restaurante da Fortaleza, which is next to a 500 year old fortress perched above the rocks.

The cast: The Revd John Wilson, locum chaplain.

The date & time: Sunday within the Octave of St Luke, 19 October 2008, 12.00pm.

What was the name of the service?
Choral Eucharist.

How full was the building?
It was a small church but was almost completely full – I would say there were about 100 people. The congregation appeared to be predominantly resident ex-pats, mostly retired, but there were also quite a number of younger parents with their children. All were smartly but casually dressed in summer attire. Many carried shoe boxes covered with wrapping paper, the purpose of which became clear later in the service.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A lady stood behind a stack of books piled high on a table outside the entrance to the church. She greeted me with "Good morning" and handed me a hymn book, a service book and a pew sheet. Two ladies in the congregation smiled and said good morning as well.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a wooden chair that was as comfortable as you could expect. The chair in front had a little shelf for hymn books but was far too small for the large hymn book I had been given. There were no kneelers, and as I didn't fancy kneeling on the cold marble floor I had to adopt the "Methodist crouch" – a posture that I do not feel comfortable with!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Various people were doing little jobs and were conversing quietly. Ladies were arranging flowers and adding more boxes to the pile of shoe boxes in front of the altar. People kept disappearing and coming out of a doorway to the right of the altar, which presumably led to the vestry. One gentleman came out with what I thought were two kneelers and I thought to myself, "Oh, this is what you have to do if you want to kneel." However, he and his companion proceeded to sit on them. I didn't think the chairs were that hard!

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First and foremost would you turn off your mobile phones. We are going to start our service with Hymn 15."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymns Old and New; St Vincent's Anglican Church Worship for Ordinary Times; and a pew sheet.

What musical instruments were played?
An electric organ.

St Vincent's, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal

Did anything distract you?
The main doors to the church were left wide open, so there was some street noise that we could have done without. About halfway through the service, some loud amplified music started up, and we could definitely have done without that! I found out later that there was live jazz being performed in the restaurant opposite the church – but why it had to be broadcast to the whole of the village is beyond my comprehension.
 
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Bearing in mind that the resident congregation must have come from all sorts of Anglican traditions in their original countries, I thought it was middle of the road Anglican worship that perfectly fitted the bill. The hymns were sung lustily by the congregation, led by a choir of six ladies and two gentlemen who provided descant accompaniments and lovely harmonies. Father John was vested in a white alb with embroidery and a red chasuble. He faced the congregation rather than adopting the eastward facing position. At some point in the service the congregation were asked to hold up their shoe boxes to be blessed. These shoe boxes contained presents for underprivileged Portuguese children. After the blessing, people were asked to bring the boxes up to the altar to be placed with the others already there.
 
Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.
 
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – I had the impression that he was reading from a well prepared script.
 
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was about Luke the evangelist who, besides being a physician and a painter, was a prolific writer. The intriguing aspect about Luke was that he was a gentile, was not a disciple of Jesus, and in fact never met Jesus. So how did he manage to write so much about the birth, life and death of Jesus in his own gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, which takes up about a quarter of the New Testament? The source was undoubtedly the Blessed Virgin herself; Mary reminisced about her son to Luke. It is Luke who wrote about the compassion that Jesus had for sinners, outcasts, lepers, shepherds and the poor, and he emphasised the role of women. Luke believed that Jesus Christ is the solution to all our problems. Father John concluded by saying, "May St Luke pray for us and our church today."
 
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I felt extremely choked up throughout most of the service. It was a privilege to share in this Church of England service in a foreign country. The singing of the hymns was enthusiastic and the readings were delivered clearly. The prayers of intercession were particularly beautiful; we prayed not only for Father Haynes (the senior chaplain), Father John, and the Bishop of Gibraltar and his assistant, but also for the Roman Catholic pastor of Nossa Senhora da Luz and his superior, whose names I didn't catch.
 
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
During the sanctus the lights went out and the electric organ stopped. The music director gave one last wave of his baton before retreating into the vestry, apparently to have a go at the switch box. Luckily sunlight was streaming in through the open door and the windows, so everyone carried on with the singing. At length the director returned without having managed to restore the electricity, and the service carried on. Some minutes later, at the precise moment of the elevation of the host, all the lights went back on. Now was that a miracle?!
 
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Although we hung around for a little while no one approached us.
 
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There were no after-service refreshments.
 
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I won the lottery and lived here I would definitely want to worship here.
 
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Very much so. It was lovely to see how accommodating and Christian the local Roman Catholic church has been to allow Anglicans to use their building for worship.
 
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Well, I am writing this report seven days later back in England, and I remember the whole service with fondness as one of the highlights of my holiday in the Algarve. If I have to pin it down to one thing, it would have to be the power cut during the sanctus and the return of electricity at the elevation of the host.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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