Patricia Cameron's porch is a photo of her niece
with the caption, "Still missing, still missed, still
Christmas is about to pass, the fourth since Madeleine disappeared in
May 2007, leaving only pain and longing behind.
said: "Christmas is one of the toughest times. But every family occasion
is marred because there is a little person who is not there.
doesn't get any easier. If anything, it gets harder."
week, Patricia became a family representative for the charity Missing
People, who help with searches and support those left behind.
wanted to take on the role to highlight the plight of the many left with
a void in their life - the parents, the children, the sisters, the
brothers, the uncles and the aunts of the missing.
organisation are asking the Government to give families of missing
people the same rights as victims of crime, access to legal and
financial assistance and emotional support.
Patricia deeply to watch her little brother Gerry and his wife Kate grow
emotionally and physically weaker because of the loss and endless
searching for Madeleine.
said: "Gerry is the baby of the family. I feel very protective and it
hurts me to see him looking so tired. They are both just exhausted. They
have so much on their plate.
are overwhelmed by trying to be breadwinners, investigators and parents.
That's why I support the Missing Rights campaign. People need all the
help they can get."
Madeleine was snatched from the Portuguese holiday resort of
Praia da Luz
the Algarve on May 3, 2007, as Gerry and Kate
McCanns, there was a desperate need for
funds to pay for legal
advice and a worldwide search.
said: "It is so hard to watch
Kate and Gerry push themselves
constantly. When Madeleine first went missing, family and friends had to
step in to help them pay the mortgage.
is constantly tight but they have to keep going. They will never give up
looking and that costs money. Families of the missing still need to pay
bills while they search but there is no right to any
Madeleine disappeared, Patricia took on the role of babysitter for Kate
and Gerry's twins,
Sean and Amelie,
now five, while their parents searched.
result, there is a close bond between Patricia and the children.
bathes the twins when she visits the McCanns and chats to them about
Madeleine and her memories of her.
said: "Kate listens sometimes. It is always nice for her to hear someone
else's memories of Madeleine, something more of her little girl."
are treasured photos of Madeleine as a toddler, with her aunt holding
her in her arms. Patricia was Madeleine's godmother and there was a
special bond between them.
Patricia and her mum, Eileen, visited her son, Paul, who was studying
medicine at Cambridge, she would pick Madeleine up from the nearby
McCann family home and take her on a special day out.
said: "She would say to the twins they were too little to come and so it
was just her. That made her feel grown-up. We would have lunch and feed
ducks in the park. Not expensive things, just precious memories.
were times she had my mum and I in stitches. She was so sharp and
Patricia remembers vividly a holiday in Ireland with 46 extended family
and friends, and playing rounders on the beach.
said: "Madeleine was a little daredevil. She was the only one who would
go in the water. It was the Atlantic and it was freezing. She was a
determined little thing."
Madeleine's grandparents suffer terribly. Eileen and Kate's parents,
Susan and Brian Healy, fear they'll never see her again.
said: "My mum and Kate's parents have become very close. They understand
each other and what they are going through.
hard for them. They think about Madeleine all the time and have some
terrible days. A friend of my mum's died recently. When she was sick,
she told my mum she would send her a sign from heaven to let her know if
Madeleine was there."
calls the twins her bonny lassie and bonny laddie, and carries one under
added: "They are crazy about their granny."
Christmas cards from the McCanns are still signed with the names of all
there are still Christmas presents in Madeleine's room ready for her to
meantime, Kate is exhausted juggling family life with
writing a book she hopes will help finance the continued search for her daughter.
expected to be in shops next April, to coincide with the fourth
anniversary of her disappearance.
is a nurse and the hands-on carer in the family.
that's why it is unusual for her to take on a task like this for Missing
People. The lobbying and the campaigning have always been roles for
Gerry and Kate.
are just too busy. Patricia spent a few days with them last week to give
them a break before Christmas.
said: "Gerry has changed. He is more serious and is always exhausted. It
breaks my heart to see him like that.
has always been thin but they have just had the cold and she looks even
are both drained emotionally, psychologically and physically.
are on a treadmill. They are trying to do their best for their wee
daughter who is missing and they are trying to do their best for the wee
twins in front of them.
why organisations like Missing People are vital. I wish at the beginning
we had used the kind of support they offer."
will never give up hope that Madeleine will be found.
said: "There are cases of people being hidden and kept for years and
those cases give you hope. You have to think like that.
could be alive. We just haven't found her."
were over 40,000 incidents of people going missing in Scotland last
People have caring, highly skilled staff and volunteers working around
the clock all over the UK.
of Family Representative is the first of several planned new volunteer
opportunities available in Scotland, and involves acting as a
spokesperson to the media and local community.
years of heartbreak
2007 Madeleine disappears from Praia da Luz, days before her fourth
2007 Police release a description of the kidnapper.
May 10, 2007 Police question Kate and Gerry about why their kids were
alone in the apartment.
2007 Search of local area called off.
May 12, 2007 Madeleine's fourth birthday.
2007 Local resident Robert Murat is named as an official suspect.
2007 McCanns enlist help of private investigators.
2007 McCanns meet the Pope in Rome.
2007 Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa claims vital clues may have been
September 7, 2007 Gerry and Kate named as suspects.
September 9, 2007 Gerry and Kate return home.
September 16, 2007 Sir Richard Branson donates £100,000 for McCanns'
2, 2007 Policeman in charge of inquiry is removed from case and demoted.
1, 2007 Gerry returns to work as surgeon.
2008 Robert Murat and Kate and Gerry McCann have official suspect status
2008 Portuguese attorney general archives the case. It can be reopened
if new evidence comes to light.
2009 A projected photo of Madeleine aged six is released.
2009 Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett denies anything to do with
December 21, 2009 Facebook page claiming to be created by Madeleine's
kidnapper is removed.
28, 2010 On
day since disappearance, McCanns host a £150-a-head
2, 2010 McCanns launch online petition calling for joint review of the
case by Portuguese and UK governments.
3, 2010 McCanns appeal for cash as Find Madeleine Fund, which once
topped £2million, runs dry.