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1,000 days after disappearance, Madeleine McCann inspires Armitage poem

Original Source: TIMES: WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY 2010
From The Times  January 27, 2010

One thousand days after she disappeared, Madeleine McCann has inspired a poem by Simon Armitage, the writer widely regarded as the runner-up for last year’s poet laureateship.

The Beacon is published in times2 today. A handwritten copy will be auctioned tonight to raise funds for the McCanns’ campaign.

It is not the first time that Armitage has composed verses about events that impinge strongly on the public consciousness. He wrote a poem for the fifth anniversary of 9/11, while his other works include a commission for the 60th anniversary of VE-Day and Killing Time, a poem celebrating the millennium.

Armitage accepted the commission, which came via Emma Loach, a director who worked with Gerry and Kate McCann on a television documentary and is a friend of Armitage, after he met the couple at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire. “We talked about the night Madeleine went missing, those terrible hours of darkness before they could resume the search,” he said.

Madeleine, then aged 3, disappeared from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. Despite extensive publicity and a number of unconfirmed claimed sightings, the Portuguese police have come no closer to finding out what happened to her.

“On my part, like a lot of people, it’s something that, right from the beginning, I felt moved by,” said Armitage said. The poem draws on the imagery of the photograph of Madeleine in the missing poster and the candle that her parents keep burning in a lantern in their village square.

With the line “Somewhere out there there has to be life”, the poem reflects the McCanns’ hope that , in the absence of any solid evidence to the contrary, their daughter may still be alive.

“They have hope and that’s what keeps them going,” said Armitage said. “For as long as that’s the case they have a parent’s duty and it’s their fierce desire to keep looking for her.”

As part of events to mark the 1,000 days since the disappearance, supporters of the McCanns in Britain, Portugal and the US will today launch 1,000 glowing paper lanterns into the night sky.

The couple will also attend a £150-a-head dinner fundraising event at Kensington Roof Gardens, in west London. It is understood that those invited include Sir Richard Branson, who owns the venue, J.K. Rowling and the couple’s millionaire backer Brian Kennedy. The McCanns have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on private detectives to continue the search for their daughter.

Half the money raised will go to the McCanns’ fund to finance the search for Madeleine and the rest will be split between the charities Missing People and Missing Children Europe.


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