Saturday, May 02, 2009

MADELEINE MOTHER 'FEARED WORST'

The McCanns appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show - Courtesy Diva TV

The mother of Madeleine McCann has admitted she has thought the worst at times, since her three-year-old daughter went missing two years ago.

In a TV interview, US chat show host Oprah Winfrey asked Kate McCann if she allowed herself to "go to the worst".

Mrs McCann replied it was "natural", adding: "There are times I do."

A new picture of how Madeleine might look now has been released ahead of the second anniversary of her disappearance from a holiday apartment in Portugal.

Mrs McCann told The Oprah Winfrey Show she was keeping Madeleine's room in the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire, ready for her return.

And she and husband Gerry are said to be "incredibly hopeful" the new picture of Madeleine - computer-generated to make her look nearly six years old - will result in her being found.

Meanwhile, a charity says the case highlights the lack of support for families of missing people.

Missing People says more could have been done to help the McCanns and those like them.

In the Oprah interview to be broadcast on Monday in the UK, on digital channel Diva TV, Mrs McCann also says she keeps Madeleine's room "ready waiting" and "talks" to her.

"I tend to open and close the curtains morning and evening. Just say hello really. Just tell her we're still going and, you know, we're going to do everything we can to find her," she said.

New Madeleine image
The poster shows Madeleine as she was and how she might look now.

Gerry McCann concedes that cases of child abduction have the potential to destroy marriages.

But he told Oprah Winfrey: "We've been supported tremendously well and I think that's helped us stay strong and stay together."

The McCanns say they believe there is "a very real likelihood" that Madeleine is still alive.

The new image is shown on a poster showing her aged nearly six, smiling with a pink head-band in her fair shoulder-length hair.

Alongside it is the well-known picture of Madeleine taken just before she went missing.

At the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an artist used photographs of Mr and Mrs McCann at around the same childhood age to produce an "age progression image".

The couple believe it is the most realistic picture possible of how she might look today, said their spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

He said it was "difficult" for Mrs McCann see the image at first, but over time she got used to it.

"She is adamant she would recognise Madeleine instantly if she walked in front of her tomorrow, but she does admit it took her some time and a lot of adjustment to get used to this image," he said.

They are to distribute the poster worldwide as part of their continuing search for Madeleine, who vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

To deal with the expected worldwide response to the new campaign, the family has hired private detectives and established a telephone hotline.

Anyone who has seen Madeleine is urged to contact their local police force or visit the McCann's Findmadeleine.com website.

The charity Missing People says the Madeleine McCann case "continues to highlight the need for better services and support for families affected".

Its director of policy and research, Geoff Newiss, said: "Families like Madeleine McCann's need more help with the emotional, social and practical impacts that occur when someone they love goes missing.

The charity is calling for better responses from police forces to the families of missing people and more "timely and appropriate" support.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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