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‘The absence still aches’ – Kate and Gerry McCann issue anniversary message

The couple thanked well-wishers for their support, and for remembering Madeleine and all missing children.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann (PA/PA)

The parents of Madeleine McCann have released a statement on the 17th anniversary of her disappearance, saying “the absence still aches”.

In a message issued on the official Find Madeleine website, Kate and Gerry McCann said: “It’s 17 years since Madeleine was taken from us.

“It’s hard to even say that number without shaking our heads in disbelief.

Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview shortly before the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance
Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview shortly before the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance (Joe Giddens/PA)

“Whilst we are fortunate in many ways and able to live a relatively normal and enjoyable life now, the ‘living in limbo’ is still very unsettling. And the absence still aches.”

The couple added: “Your support continues to encourage us and bolsters our strength to keep going. We know the love and hope for Madeleine and the will to find her, even after so many years, remains, and we are truly thankful for that.

“Thank you again for remembering Madeleine and all missing children.”

Madeleine, from Rothley in Leicestershire, vanished on May 3 2007 while on holiday with her parents in Praia da Luz, Portugal, after they left the then three-year-old and her younger twin siblings asleep in their apartment while they went out to dinner with friends nearby.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that up to a further £192,000 has been granted by the Home Office for the Scotland Yard investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance.

The confirmation of the latest annual funding for Operation Grange was revealed in a parliamentary written answer by Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom.

He also said that as of March this year, the Metropolitan Police had spent £13.2 million investigating the high-profile case.

Responding to a parliamentary written question by Conservative peer Lord Black of Brentwood, Lord Sharpe said: “Operation Grange’s special grant budget currently funds a team of three police officers and one member of police staff, all of whom operate on a part-time basis.

“Special grant funding is reviewed annually by the Home Office.”

The prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance is currently on trial in Germany charged with unrelated sex offences, allegedly committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

Search teams at the Algarve’s Barragem do Arade reservoir last May
Search teams at the Algarve’s Barragem do Arade reservoir last May (Yui Mok/PA)

The 47-year-old German, only known as Christian B because of the country’s strict privacy laws, spent many years in Portugal – including in Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

He is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for the rape of an elderly woman at her home in the resort town in 2005.

He had denied all the charges against him and any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

In June last year, German prosecutors said they cannot yet link items seized in the fresh McCann searches with the investigation into her disappearance.

A large section of the Barragem do Arade area of the Algarve was cordoned in May 2023, around 30 miles from where Madeleine went missing.