news

"We're waiting for you." How Kate and Gerry McCann marked Madeleine's 16th birthday without her.

“It’s by far the toughest day of our year.”

For Kate and Gerry McCann, May 12th, the date of their eldest daughter’s birthday, is fraught with devastation, representing yet another year since Madeleine’s disappearance.

Having vanished weeks before her fourth birthday from their hotel room in Portugal, it’s been 12 years since Kate tucked Maddie in for the last time, before heading out to dinner on the hotel grounds.

Watch the official trailer of Netflix’s The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Post continues after video.

Maddie McCann would be 16 today – the year most kids learn how to drive. But instead of holding a birthday party for a hoard of teenagers, her family are in mourning, still without answers as to what happened to their daughter.

Posting to the official Find Madeleine McCann Facebook page, Kate and Gerry shared a photo of Madeleine with the message: “Happy 16th Birthday, Madeleine! We love you and we’re waiting for you and we’re never going to give up. #ForAsLongAsItTakes.”

To honour Maddie on her significant birthday, according to Express UK, Kate and Gerry plan to hold a low-key party with a commemorative cake her 14-year-old twin siblings Sean and Amelia will blow out for her.

Former GP Kate, 51, now a medical worker, has been buying a birthday and Christmas gift for Maddie every year since she vanished in 2007, in the hopes she’ll one day open them.

Madeleine McCann evidence
Gerry and Kate McCann have fought tirelessly over the last 12 years to find their daughter. Image: Getty
ADVERTISEMENT

This year, she'll do the same.

“The presents I buy for her usually have to jump out at me,” Kate wrote in a letter for the Telegraph in 2017.

“She would be a teenager now so I always try and pick something that would be suitable and enjoyable for her no matter what age she is when she gets to open them.

“In my head I guess I just want everything for be right for her when she comes back home. The loft is filled with the presents I have bought for Madeleine and her wardrobe, too.”

Last photo Madeleine McCann
The last known photo of Madeleine McCann, taken on the day she disappeared. Image via Channel 7.

The presents lay in her daughter's bedroom at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, which is believed to have remained untouched since 2007.

Ahead of her 16th birthday, the McCann family spoke to BBC News about how they continue to mark Maddie’s birthday.

“We always remember her and do something, we always have a cake,” Kate said.

Gerry, 51, added: “We have her birthday with close family and the twins, but it’s hard, it’s really hard.

“She’s not there, and she should be celebrating."

Kate McCann also spoke about the heartbreak of the date in her 2011 book Madeleine: Our daughter’s disappearance and the continuing search for her.

“As we’ve continued to do since, we had a tea party at home with balloons cake, cards, and presents," she wrote.

“The presents go into Madeleine’s room to await her return.

“Her pink bedroom remains exactly as it was when she left it but it’s a lot busier now.”

On May 3, the date of Maddie's disappearance, Kate and Gerry wrote on the Find Madeleine website: “It’s that time of year again. As much as we’d like to fast forward the first couple of weeks of May, there’s no getting around it.

"There is comfort and reassurance though in knowing that the investigation continues and many people around the world remain vigilant."

kate mccann lindy chamberlain
Kate and Gerry McCann hold an age-progressed police image of their daughter Madeleine McCann. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

In the 12 years since Madeleine McCann went missing, theories and rumours have swirled around who may have been behind the disappearance.

Earlier this month, just after the 12th anniversary of her disappearance, a new key “masked man” suspect emerged in the investigation.

At the time, many media outlets reported that the suspect may have been convicted German paedophile Martin Ney, as he was believed to fit the description of a man acting suspiciously in the hours before Madeleine disappeared in 2007.

madeleine mccann suspect
Madeleine McCann and Martin Ney. Image: Twitter

But while it was widely reported that Ney, who was jailed for life in 2012 for murdering three children and sexually abusing dozens more, was being questioned by police in line with the case – the claims have since been disputed.

According to Portugese news organisation Correio da Manha, Martin Ney is not the new suspect in the Madeleine McCann investigation.

The new suspect has not been named.

For more on this topic:

00:00 / ???