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Madeleine McCann's parents pray at tenth anniversary service

Gemma Strong

Madeleine McCann's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, felt "uplifted and comforted" after attending a church service in their home village to mark the tenth anniversary of their daughter's disappearance. The couple arrived hand in hand at Rothley Parish Church in Leicestershire, wearing green and yellow wristbands symbolising hope and solidarity, and were warmly welcomed by the community as they came to remember Maddie.

Kate and Gerry chose not to bring their 12-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the gathering at their local parish church, and did not speak afterwards – "They didn't need to because the service spoke for itself," Kate's aunt Janet Kennedy said afterwards. Reverend Rob Gladstone led the ceremony, which Kate helped to organise, and he also led prayers for other missing children.

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Gerry and Kate McCann arrive for a church service to mark the tenth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance

The service began with Cat Stevens' recording of Morning Has Broken playing out, the BBC reports. Rev Gladstone then addressed the congregation, saying: "Lord we thank you for sustaining Gerry and Kate through these painful years. We pray for the team of women and men who are still searching for Madeleine and other missing children. May the Holy Spirit help them as they work hard to find out the truth."

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Kate's close friend Fiona Payne - who was with the McCann family during their fateful holiday to Praia da Luz in May 2007 when Maddie was snatched – recited the prayer 'Tree of Hope' during the service. "Each branch that it grows be our hope and prayers, and every bloom bear a colour for the ones that we miss," she read.

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Tributes were also left outside a church in Praia da Luz, Portugal

After the ceremony, Kate's uncle Brian Kennedy told press: "I can't believe we are here ten years on but we will be here for as long as it takes. We don't know when the end it." But he vowed: "We will overcome despair." He added that Kate and Gerry had both been "uplifted and comforted" by the 25-minute service and the overwhelming support they had received.

Earlier on Wednesday, a special assembly was held at the local primary school to pray for Maddie, and pupils tied new ribbons onto a 'Tree of Hope' planted in her memory in 2007. Messages tied with yellow ribbon had also been placed at the church by local children. A special service was also held at a church in Praia da Luz in Maddie's honour, and a sunset balloon release at a nearby beach was conducted.

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