We miss Madeleine every second, says Kate McCann on 10th anniversary

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The family of Madeleine McCann have said they "miss her every second" as they reflect on 10 years of "stolen time" without her.

Kate McCann wrote a letter to the people of Praia da Luz on May 3, exactly a decade after she vanished from their holiday apartment in the Algarve village.

Members of the congregation at the Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz wept as the letter from Mrs McCann was read at a special service.

The service, attended by about 40 people including those who helped search for the little girl in 2007, took place at 9pm - about the time that she disappeared.

Mrs McCann wrote: "To our dear friends.

"Ten years without Madeleine. If I'd let that thought even enter my head back in May 2007, I wouldn't have lasted another day.

"And now, a decade on... it is still inconceivable. How can it be?

"Our little girl who brought us the gift of parenthood. Ten years on. We miss her every second.

"Despite the evil and hurt that has come our way, we have been very fortunate, having witnessed and experienced goodness and kindness in great abundance during this long and difficult period of 'stolen' time.

"We are especially grateful to our friends and supporters in Luz for being strong enough and brave enough to keep Madeleine and our family in your prayers and in your hearts.

"Your love and compassion has given us fortitude over the years and sustained our hope in immeasurable amounts.

"There will never be too many times to thank you... and so 'thank you' for everything... but above all, for not giving up on Madeleine.

"With our love and our very best wishes, Kate, Gerry, Madeleine, Sean and Amelie - and all our family."

The letter was read at the 40-minute-long service - spoken in both English and Portuguese - by Susan Hubbard, a close friend of Mrs McCann.

Mrs Hubbard's husband, Father Haynes Hubbard, was the priest at the church at about the time that Madeleine went missing.

Appeal posters and T-shirts were placed near the altar of the medieval church, along with candles that were lit throughout the service.

A minute's silence was held for Madeleine and for all missing children at the start of the service, which is held at the church each year.

Mrs Hubbard said Mrs McCann had asked for a message of hope, and she read the scripture Isaiah 40 vs 3-8 and 28-31.

"It is one of Kate's favourites," she explained.

Psalm 23, The Lord Is My Shepherd, was read in both languages, and songs were also sung in English and Portuguese.

Father Hubbard told the congregation: "You might remember the first week after Madeleine was taken.

"We gathered here in this church and we lit this candle. We said that the light that this candle offers will not be put out.

"Then we went home and we remembered Madeleine in our prayers. And here we are. Ten years later. Remembering Madeleine in our prayers.

"Madeleine and all children who are in need of our prayers are held up in hope.

"We hold Madeleine in our hearts and all children who are lost. We pray for them."

A slideshow, featuring photographs of Madeleine and her family, was played at the end of the service.

It was played to the song The Prayer - a duet between Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

Those who attended the church held lit candles with green ribbon wrapped around them.

Outside the church, wellwishers had left flowers, a card with a photograph of Madeleine on, a heart made of rocks and a teddy bear with a yellow ribbon bearing her name.

Yellow ribbons, to signify hope, were placed around the village at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.

At sunset, 10 balloons to mark the 10th anniversary were released on the beach at Praia da Luz.

A pink balloon was also tied to the gate of apartment 5A of the Ocean Club resort, where Madeleine vanished while her parents ate supper nearby.

Kate and Gerry McCann attended a service to remember missing children including Madeleine at their local village church, Rothley Parish Church, at 7pm.

Speaking after the service, which was attended by about 200 people in the Leicestershire village, members of the McCann family said they still had hope.

Janet Kennedy, Madeleine's great aunt, said the family were "very moved" by the gathering.

"The idea was 'yes, it's 10 years, but we're not going to be ground down by this' because the essential message is we still have hope," she said.

Brian Kennedy, Madeleine's great uncle, said: "I met quite a few press people 10 years ago and I would never have believed at that time we would still be here talking to you, seeing you, having services and so on as long as this this.

"But as the poem says 'for as long as it takes'. I don't know where the end is or how it will end but nobody else does. There's hope."

Inside the church, photographs of Madeleine and other loved ones who have disappeared were displayed, with messages attached to yellow ribbons.

One, written by Lily, said: "I pray that Madeleine is found safe wherever she is. And that one day she will return."

Another read: "I pray Madeleine will come back one day."

The service, led by the Rev Rob Gladstone, began with Cat Stevens' rendition of Morning Has Broken and included tea lights being lit for missing children.

A special assembly was held at Rothley School to pray for Madeleine and other missing children, with new ribbons tied to the Tree of Hope which was planted in 2007.

Mr and Mrs McCann have vowed to do "whatever it takes for as long as it takes" to find their daughter.

British detectives working on the case revealed recently that they were pursuing a "significant" line of inquiry, with information received on a daily basis.

Jenny Murat, who lives 100 yards from the Ocean Club complex, revealed that she had seen a car driving towards the McCanns' apartment.

Speaking about the sighting for the first time, Mrs Murat told the BBC that the vehicle was driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

"It was one of the small cars, like the rental cars - the normal, everyday sort of rental cars," she said.

"I saw the driver, I was beside the driver. Both of us looked at each other. I think he had a very British look about him."

She also described seeing a woman wearing a plum-coloured top, standing outside the apartment on the night that Madeleine went missing.

Prayers have been said for Madeleine at the church in Praia da Luz every week since her disappearance, during the Sunday service.