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Lighting up the sky with lanterns at Formby Football Club for Madeleine McCann - 1,000 days after she went missing

Original Source:  FORMBY TIMES: TUESDAY 26 JANUARY 2010
Jan 26 2010 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo

TOMORROW will be another landmark day in the search for Madeleine McCann – another chance to raise awareness and keep the missing girl in people’s thoughts.

It will be 1,000 days since the then three-year-old – she will now be six – disappeared while on holiday in Portugal with her parents, Kate and Gerry, and her brother and sister, twins Sean and Amelie.

Millions of words have been written and so much seems to have happened since May 3, 2007 – but, in essence, nothing has happened and nothing has changed.

Madeleine McCann went missing on that date – and she’s still missing.

To mark that cold, cruel fact, 1,000 lanterns will be released at locations across the UK by friends, family and supporters of the McCanns at 7.30pm tomorrow.

Among the locations will be Rothley in Leicestershire, where Kate and Gerry live, and, here in Merseyside, Formby Football Club on Altcar Road, Formby, where 250 lanterns will light up the Merseyside sky.

A club official says the gates will be open by 7pm and parking will be available at and around the ground.

Kate’s mum and dad, Susan and Brian Healy, live in Allerton, and Susan reveals: “We were going to use Mossley Hill Athletics Club, but are not able to because lanterns can be a problem if they are released close to the airport.

“The nearest alternatives were Formby and St Helens and Kate has also got friends in Formby so we decided to do it there.”

While Kate and Gerry will be hosting a dinner in London tomorrow evening to raise funds for the ongoing search for their daughter, Susan and Brian will be in Formby – although those Merseysiders unable to get there are being invited to show their support and solidarity in their own homes.

“The message is for people not to give up on Madeleine,” says Susan.

“It’s sad that it’s a school day and that many children from this area won’t be able to get to Formby, but people can mark the 1,000 days in other ways.

“They don’t need lanterns – they can simply think about Madeleine and have a quiet time of reflection in their own homes.

“Kate will be at her fundraising night in London – God love her, she’s worked so hard on that – but there will also be a lantern release in Rothley.”

While many people around the world will still have a fixed image of Madeleine in their minds – taken before she went missing – we are reminded of the onward march of time by the fact that Kate and Gerry’s twins, Sean and Amelie, will be five on February 1, while Madeleine herself will be seven on May 12.

As we have said before in the ECHO, the future tense is important because, despite the time that has passed, there is no proof the past tense is needed.

Madeleine’s name continues to be mentioned each and every week during the “children’s service” which takes place at 10am on Sundays at Our Lady of the Annunciation, Bishop Eton, in Woolton Road, Childwall.

Meanwhile, on their website,, under the heading “Why do we continue?”, Kate and Gerry stress:

“There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Madeleine has been harmed

Madeleine is still missing and someone needs to be looking for her.

“She is very young and vulnerable and needs our help.

“We love her dearly and miss her beyond words.”


Susan says: “I think there has been publicity that will lead you to think that Madeleine is dead, but we just don’t know what’s happened to Madeleine.

“Kate is so anxious people don’t think Madeleine is dead, because if they do then people will stop looking for her.

“The fact is absolutely nothing has changed from day one. People have their ideas but until there’s something to substantiate what has been said it’s ridiculous. It does work against the search and we can’t allow that.”

It’s impossible to fully comprehend what Madeleine’s family have been through and what they continue to go through on a daily basis – and Susan says: “I can’t explain what it’s like . . . it’s dreadful.”

Last year, in the lead-up to the second anniversary of her disappearance, new T-shirts were printed which included the words “Don’t give up on me” beneath a photograph of Madeleine, while her parents’ poignant message hammered home what every parent would surely feel if they were in the same situation.

“It is vital that we never, ever give up on Madeleine,” they said.

“Can you imagine a little girl or boy out there, hoping and waiting to be found but for people then to ‘write them off’, forget about them, just because there’s been no ‘news’? For that child never to be reunited with their family because everyone had given up on them? Just imagine.

“And so, we will never, ever give up. We urge you to remember Madeleine as a real, living and findable little girl.”

That message remains the same today – and will remain the same tomorrow, 1,000 days after Madeleine went missing in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve.

And at 7.30pm tomorrow, whether we are in Formby or any other part of Merseyside, we have the chance to stop what we’re doing for a short time and simply reflect on a missing little girl – and hope that she can soon be reunited with her family.

The McCanns and the Healys have always been extremely grateful for the support they have received from the people of Merseyside, and they will be grateful for that support to continue to be shown tomorrow – and on every day until Madeleine is found and brought back home.


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