::: What really happened the night Madeleine
::: Why her last words to me mean so much
::: How my twins are coping without their
Saturday, it will be 100 days since Madeleine McCann was
snatched from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz.
Interviewed for the first time without her husband,
Madeleine's mother tells Lori Campbell about the criticism
they have faced, the support they have received and how she
and her family have coped since that dreadful night
The one thing I have always been
definite about is that I wanted to be a
mother. Then when we were trying for a
baby and it wasn't happening, it was
really hard. The longer it went on, the
harder it was. I saw my friends having
children and I was really delighted for
them, but it made me feel sad too.
unsuccessfully for several years to
conceive. There came a point when we
admitted we needed help. I was so
desperate to have a child I'd try
anything. I know IVF isn't everyone's
choice, but I wanted to try it. By that
stage I was happy to start the treatment
because it was taking the pressure off
us a bit. We had one unsuccessful
attempt before Madeleine, and that was
very hard. But when I got pregnant with
Madeleine it was just fantastic. It
didn't seem true. I did a test at home
so I could handle the result if it
wasn't good. I was looking at it
thinking 'I don't believe that'. Then I
went to the hospital and they checked
it. I was really excited.
Once we were past 12 weeks we were
telling everyone. I swam every day until
the day she was born to keep us both
healthy. It was a really uncomplicated
pregnancy. I had no sickness, nothing.
It was so easy. I didn't know I was
having a girl until she was born. [She
smiles] There she was, perfect. She was
lovely. She had the most beautiful face.
I'd thought I was going to have a boy,
just based on instinct. That actually
made it even more special that she was a
five or six months were really
difficult. She had very bad colic and
cried about 18 hours a day. She had to
be picked up all the time. So I spent
many a day dancing round the living room
holding Madeleine. I remember trying to
butter my toast with one hand and
holding her in the other. We would watch
the clock and Gerry would come home and
there would be three of us. Sometimes
she just looked so sad with colic, and
the three of us would be cuddled
together trying to get her through it.
Like a lot of things, you go through
that difficult, bad stage and it
tightens that bond. We've both got an
incredible bond with Madeleine.
When the twins were born she was
amazing, I keep saying that, but she
was. She was only 20 months old. She
just handled it so well. She was still a
baby herself ... [Kate's voice breaks
and she has to pause to stop herself
crying] I'll try not to get emotional at
this point. I just remember when they
were born. I'm going to get a bit upset
now, sorry. When the time came to bring
Madeleine in, it was in the evening. She
came in and ... just her little face.
When she saw the twins for the first
time it was lovely. It was so nice, this
expression. She sat on the end of my
the odd moment of course, such as when I
was breast-feeding the twins. There was
a tired Madeleine walking about the room
wanting attention. But she was
remarkable the way she coped with it
all. She would look at me and say 'hold
it, hold it,' meaning she wanted to hold
one of the babies."
She was so excited about coming to
Portugal. She was holding on to another
girl's hand walking up the stairs to the
plane. She was no trouble on the flight,
always chatting, and colouring in or
had a fantastic time. We all did, but it
was lovely seeing them having fun. We
did use the kids' club and very often
did activities there. Madeleine in
particular had a ball. They did
swimming, went on a little boat, went to
the beach, did lots of colouring in and
face painting. Madeleine is at the age
where she could really enjoy it.
played tennis, which she loved, she was
so happy. They had a little dance
prepared for Friday. It was a little
presentation they were working on in the
days before. I don't know what it was, I
never got to see it ...
evening she went missing, before she
went to bed, she said, 'Mummy I've had
the best day ever. I'm having lots and
lots of fun.' [Pause]
The night she went missing there was
about 20 seconds of disbelief where I
thought 'that can't be right'. I was
checking for her. Then there was panic
and fear. That was the first thing that
hit. I was screaming her name. I ran to
the group. Everyone was the same. It was
just total fear. I never thought for one
second that she'd walked out. I knew
someone had been in the apartment
because of the way it had been left.
knew she wouldn't do that anyway. There
wasn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind
she'd been taken. That's why the fear
set in. Then you go through the guilt
phase. Straight away, because we didn't
know what had happened. We were just so
desperately sorry. Every hour now, I
still question, 'why did I think that
can't describe how much I love
Madeleine. If I'd had to think for one
second, 'should we have dinner and leave
them?' I wouldn't have done it. It
didn't happen like that. I didn't have
to think for a second, that's how safe I
it was because it was family-friendly,
because it felt so safe. That week we
had left them alone while we had dinner.
There is no way on this planet I would
take a risk, no matter how small, with
my children. I do say to myself 'why did
I think it was safe?' But it did feel
safe and so right. I love her and I'm a
totally responsible parent and that's
the only thing that keeps me going. I
have no doubt about that.
don't expect a predator to break in and
take your daughter out the bed. It could
have happened under other circumstances
and there would still be the regret. It
wasn't like a decision we made. It was a
matter of 'let's get the kids to sleep,
then we'll have dinner.' It wasn't a
'shall I, shan't I?' thing. I feel
desperately sorry to her that we weren't
has touched so many people. I've had so
many letters from mothers, really kind
words. People have said 'Kate, we've
done this a hundred times over
ourselves. Why would you for one minute
think something like that would happen?'
It's not like we went down town or
|How did it
People have said to me you're the
unluckiest person in the world, and we
are. That night runs over and over in my
mind, and I'm sure people will learn
from our mistake, if you want to call it
that. But it is important not to lose
sight of the fact we haven't committed a
crime. Somebody has. Somebody's been
there, somebody's been watching. They
took our daughter away and we can't lose
sight of that.
still moments where I think 'how did
that happen?' You can't imagine in your
wildest dreams that anyone would do
something like that. It's awful for us
but I have absolutely no idea what
Madeleine's feeling. [She pauses to hold
back tears] How can someone do that to a
we moved apartments we unpacked some of
Madeleine's things. We don't have a room
for her set out or anything. I've kept
her clothes together. She has lots of
presents to open that people have sent.
Mostly people who don't know her, and
pictures other children have drawn.
twins know she's not there and they do
miss her. But on a day-to-day basis they
are happy. They're lovely, like a little
double act, they're so funny. They put
their little rucksacks on, hold hands
and walk off around the room. They're
Their vocabulary has come on so much
since we've been here. The older they
get the more it stretches, and there are
areas we're going to have to broach. But
we'll let them take the lead. They talk
about Madeleine's things and if they get
a biscuit they say 'one for Sean, one
for Amelie, one for Madeleine'.
photographs of Madeleine all around and
they comment on them. They've got a lot
of love and protection. We've taken
professional advice just to check we're
doing the right thing by them. We have
contact with a child psychologist when
we need it.
we went back to the UK for a family
baptism there was an empty seat on the
plane and Sean said 'that's Madeleine's
seat'. That caught me. Because I wasn't
going home, it didn't feel too bad
leaving. It was important for me to go.
The hardest thing wasn't being in the
UK, it was to be with such a close
family and for Madeleine not to be
there. I knew how much she'd have loved
to be there ... Despite her small size
she just has this huge presence. She
brings a lot of joy.
asked me afterwards, 'Where's Madeleine?
I miss my big sister.' I don't know
where that question came from, it could
have been because it was a family day.
She's obviously made that connection,
she knows Madeleine's her big sister.
Amelie will sometimes point at the
Cuddle Cat [Madeleine's cuddly toy] and
say 'Madeleine. Her Cuddle Cat. Looking
after it.' She's probably heard me
said something the other day about
Madeleine. It catches me. Then they do
whatever they're doing, like 'look at
this Noddy', and they're on to something
else. It's not dwelled on.
Gerry's way of coping is to keep busy
and focused. He needs to feel like he's
doing something. He's a very optimistic,
positive person. I'm not always. With a
lot of the campaign stuff, he has done
the talking. Sometimes I want to speak,
but I just can't. It's not natural for
me. Gerry's used to having to speak at
conferences and it's harder for me. But
I'm equally involved. Every decision is
Gerry went to Washington, he rang me
three or four times a day to ask me what
I thought. Although I wasn't there in
person I knew hour by hour what was
happening. We knew it was a positive
visit. It wasn't about Madeleine in
particular. We've learnt a lot and
become aware of the bigger issue.
There are so many missing children out
there, abducted children and sexually
exploited children. Once you know all
that you can't turn a blind eye to it.
Madeleine is our priority, but we have
to help. We can't just ignore those
know why the publicity's been so
massive. We're normal people. We don't
have amazing contacts or anything, we
just have strong friends. Everyone
brainstormed and became very creative.
They did what they could and if that
meant asking well-known faces,
celebrities, it was done. They are
normal people too. They wanted to help.
still have moments of panic and fear.
It's not as intense and unrelenting as
the first five days. Now, obviously, we
have hope and it's important to hold on
to that. I do go back to those dark
moments. It would be abnormal never to
touch on them. I do feel panic and fear
when I'm thinking about her, but it
doesn't help. I'm not helping Madeleine
by going there. It's important to
channel those emotions into something
But I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to
go back into our family home. I can't
bear the thought of it. We'd lived in
that house for a year and it was a
really happy family home. We have so
many happy memories in that house.
Madeleine's room is shocking pink. She
chose the colour.
things change as the weeks and months go
by. We haven't got the pressure of Sean
and Amelie starting school or anything.
At the moment we're staying and we feel
happier staying. We are closer to the
investigation. Some of that might be
mad, I don't know. We don't know where
Madeleine is, we don't think she's in
the UK but there's nothing to say she's
any further from there than she is from
here. It's a gut feeling. I'm aware
there's probably things that would be
easier at home, but at the moment this
is the right thing for us.
it's hard to think about work. I'm not
looking too far ahead, but I can't drop
the campaign, I know that. I can't turn
a blind eye to it. We'll do whatever we
can, working with other organisations,
to try to make a difference. It's so
hard not to get involved, it's so
intimate to us now that we can't ignore
it. It's not like I go round in a
bubble, but I honestly did not realise
the scale of this problem, children
suffering like this.
The criticism from the public is
hurtful. I hate publicity, interviews,
anything like that. I just hate it. When
things have happened in the past to
children I've wondered 'how do you get
through that, how can you even live
another day?' Then here we were doing
press conferences. You just don't know
until you're in that situation. Like
this morning: how did I get in the
shower, have my breakfast?
I just go
through the motions. Any parent would do
anything they could for their child.
We're just doing what we feel is the
best thing for Madeleine. Some people
say the publicity will be harmful, that
she'll be hidden away because of it. But
what can you do, just sit and do
nothing? It's difficult. It's awkward.
But it's not about me, it's not about
Gerry, it's about Madeleine.
couple, I think we're stronger than
ever. We've got an equal partnership. We
don't row, we've never rowed. We have
different strengths and have reached
different stages at different points but
we help each other. We haven't talked
about staying here for ever, we're just
not looking that far ahead. We've had so
much support, mothers can empathise with
me. Speaking now, on my own, is a way of
saying thank you. They've given a bit of
themselves to me.
Saturday will mark 100 days since
Madeleine's disappearance] I'm still
hoping we're not going to get there.
Every day I'm hoping we won't get to the
next day without her. But we have to
keep going for Madeleine.
could say one thing to comfort her it's
that we love her. She knows we love her
very much. She knows we're looking for
her, that we're doing absolutely
everything and we'll never give up.