12/05/2008

Fresh Hope As Maddie's Birthday Is Marked

There was a sad 'celebration' today as the parents of Madeleine McCann have been marking the fifth birthday of their missing daughter.

A low-key party at their family home was held, and was primarily for her younger brother and sister, but for them the birthday was "just another day without her".

However, on the plus side, the couple also said their new appeal had been met with a huge response.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Algarve on 3 May last year.

Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Obviously, without Madeleine home yet, this is sadly just another day without her in many respects.

"Gerry and Kate of course, marked her fifth birthday, as much for Sean and Amelie's benefit as anything else, but they will do this privately within the family."

The McCann's new appeal for information, launched ahead of the first anniversary of their daughter's disappearance, urged anyone who had spoken to Portuguese or British authorities about the case to contact them.

Mr Mitchell said: "We have had a very, very good and encouraging response so far. The emails have run into thousands and there have been hundreds of calls."

He said after more than year of false leads, the McCanns have learnt not to build their hopes too high over new information.

But he said an investigation firm working on their behalf was following a number of new leads "with some degree of urgency".

(BMcC)

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