United Kingdom

Madeleine McCann's parents are remembering their daughter 'quietly' on her 18th birthday

Madeleine McCann's parents will remember their daughter 'quietly' on her milestone 18th birthday today on an occasion they describe as 'particularly poignant'.

Kate and Gerry will lay presents and cards in her bedroom which is understood to remain as a shrine to her and unchanged since she was snatched 14 years ago.

They will hold a small celebration for her at home in Rothley, Leicestershire, with their sixteen-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

Madeleine's great aunt and uncle Janet and Brian Kennedy, who also live in the village, will pray for her too on the day she would become an adult.

Kate and Gerry (pictured in 2017) will lay presents and cards in her bedroom which is understood to remain as a shrine to her and unchanged since she was snatched 14 years ago

They will hold a small celebration for Madeleine (pictured) at home in Rothley, Leicestershire, with their sixteen-year-old twins Sean and Amelie

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann, known as Maddie, disappeared from a holiday apartment in Portugal's Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.

She was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann; her two-year-old twin siblings; and a group of family friends and their children.

She and the twins had been left asleep at the apartment, while the McCanns and friends dined in a restaurant 55 metres (180 ft) away.

The parents checked on the children throughout the evening, until Kate discovered she was missing at 10pm.

What followed is widely regarded as one of the most reported on missing person investigations in the world.

Portuguese authorities closed their enquiries in July 2008 but Maddie's parents continued with private detectives.

Scotland Yard launched their own investigation - Operation Grange - in 2011 and enquiries are ongoing.

Retired head teacher Brian, 81, said: 'They have asked the family and supporters to remember Madeleine's birthday quietly and to continue to hope for a definitive outcome to the continuing investigation.'

In an anniversary posting last on May 3, Kate and Gerry said: 'This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine's 18th birthday.'

They continued: 'As we have said repeatedly, we need to know what has happened to our lovely daughter, no matter what.

'We are very grateful to the police for their continued efforts. We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again.'

Ex GP turned medical worker Kate, 53, and heart doctor Gerry, 52, have brought carefully chosen gifts and coming of age cards for their daughter.

They will be kept for her, either in boxes or on display in her room where she last slept five days before she vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

The pretty pink room with glow stars on the ceiling is thought to have been left frozen in time and is crammed with many yet to be opened Christmas and birthday presents, photos and goodwill messages from around the world.

It has provided a sanctuary over the years for devout Catholic Kate and her husband, although Gerry previously said in an anniversary TV interview: 'Soon there will be the practical issue of what to do with a ''spare'' room one of the twins may need.

'But that was the room she left and it would be familiar to her. It would be hard to dismantle it.'

A family friend said: 'There will be prayers and quiet reflection with the twins and presents and a special cake for Madeleine's 18th birthday.'

Three-year-old Madeleine was taken after being left sleeping alone with her younger twin siblings while her parents were dining with pals at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Kate had last seen her at 7.15pm on May 03, 2007 - just 12 days before her fourth birthday - as she tucked her into bed and kissed her goodnight after reading her and the toddler twins a story at their Algarve holiday flat.

Madeleine McCann's parents said they 'hang on to hope, however small' that they will see their daughter again as they mark the 14th anniversary of her disappearance alone

The pretty pink room at the couple's house (pictured) with glow stars on the ceiling is thought to have been left frozen in time and is crammed with many yet to be opened Christmas and birthday presents, photos and goodwill messages from around the world

After Gerry checked on the sleeping kids at 8.30pm the McCann's left them alone on that fateful night to join their seven friends at the resort bar.

Gerry returned to ground floor Apartment 5A to look in on the three children at 9.05pm.

When it was Kate's turn at 10pm, after their friend Matthew Oldfield had briefly made a second check for her at 9.30pm without looking fully into the bedroom, she found to her horror Madeleine was missing.

Kate, in her 2011 memoir Madeleine recalled that moment, writing: 'I started screaming. ''Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her.'' I was hysterical.'

She told of her mixed emotions: 'Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear.'

Kate also described in her bestseller the moment her much longed for IVF first child was born, writing: 'Our daughter was perfect.

'The most wonderful thing I had ever set eyes on. I thanked God over and over again for bringing her into our lives.'

In her latest anniversary message she said: 'Every May is tough - a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen.'

Convicted paedophile and rapist Christian Brueckner, 44, remains under investigation as the prime suspect in Madeleine's abduction.

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