We prayed for Madeleine McCann — now we must pray for justice

“PRESUMED dead.” Could there be two more devastatingly hopeless words for any parent to hear about their missing child?

Thirteen years after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance from her bed in a holiday apartment at a resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal, her parents have never given up hope that she is alive.

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But now they are having to contend with the dreadful reality that German prosecutors have found the man they believe to be her killer.

Hans Christian Wolters, from the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office in Germany, said in an update on Thursday: “We are assuming that the girl is dead.”

The suspect, Christian B, is a 43-year-old German man believed to have been in the same area as Madeleine on the night of her disappearance.

He is currently imprisoned for seven years for the rape of a 72-year-old woman. A vile creature.

Tragically, thousands of children go missing each year, but Madeleine’s story chimed with us all.

Anyone with children had only to take one look at Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s parents, to identify with the bottomless pit of pain etched all over their faces.

Not only were they contending with the loss of their tiny daughter, they were briefly considered suspects in her disappearance, before being cleared of any wrongdoing by Portuguese investigators.

I am not sure how anyone lives with the uncertainty about whether their child is alive or dead.

There are stories where kids have been found years after going missing. The truth is, though, these cases are in the minority.

The pain Kate and Gerry must feel at the loss of their daughter is unimaginable, as is the guilt that all parents must carry at the merest suggestion that they have not upheld their most important duty ­— to protect their children.

My heart — all our hearts — go out to the many parents of missing children.

But today my heart is with the McCanns. Their lives have been on hold since Madeleine disappeared. An unbearable purgatory for them.

Hollow consolation

At least there was the hope Madeleine would be found alive and well. But the “closure” that now comes with solving this mystery must feel like the hollowest of consolations.

Christian B's alleged confession to a friend that he knew what happened to the child must be beyond heartbreaking for them.

The McCanns have two other children to be strong for, but the strain of staying positive for them must be exhausting.

All we can wish for them is the strength to look forward, rather than regret the past. But how much easier said than done will that be?

If there is one glimmer of a silver lining to this latest and most terrible turn of events, it’s this: The Metropolitan Police said it had received more than 270 calls and emails since a new appeal for information was launched on Wednesday.

With any luck, enough evidence will be gathered to make sure that, whatever has happened to this child, justice will be served.

Big Mac is back with a bang

THE race is on for businesses to demonstrate how agile they are – how able they are to “pivot” to stay relevant and adapt to life after Covid-19.

McDonald’s might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

But the fast-food chain is impressively ON IT when it comes to reopening.

In fact, it provides an example to businesses that are flailing.

Its drive-through restaurants are reopening with protective screens between staff and customers, while workers will wear face masks and gloves as well as washing their hands at least every 30 minutes.

McDonald’s has also warned customers that their orders will take a little longer to arrive.

The trust they have earned is being handsomely repaid, with devotees queuing for hours this week simply to get their hands on a first Big Mac in months.

Sophie's 2-wheel warning

AS we emerge gradually from lockdown, I know I am not the only one who has a new means of transport: The bicycle.

As a nation, we are collectively getting on our bikes in a bid to travel safely, and we are all full of the health benefits that accompany travelling on two wheels.

There are some downsides, though. Like safety.

I was so sorry to hear that singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor had been rushed to A&E by ambulance after falling off her bike while cycling near her West London home.

She had to spend Tuesday night in hospital after being left “bruised and sore” following the “gory” accident while she was out on a riverside bike ride with her husband.

This feels particularly shocking and unfair, since Sophie’s kitchen discos cheered up lockdown for so many of us stuck at home.

(The other thing I was shocked to read was that Sophie has five sons: Sonny, 16, Kit, 11, Ray, eight, Jesse, four, and Mickey, 17 months. A teenager and a toddler at the same time – bloody hell, the woman deserves a medal.)

I hope Sophie feels better soon. And in the meantime, please let’s all take care. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s only a matter of time before I too end up face-first in a ditch.

I've lost track on tracing

ANYONE else confused by this manual contact tracing initiative from the Government?

Any person who has a positive Covid-19 test will be approached and asked to go on to the NHS Test and Trace website to give information on their contacts . . . and these people will then be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone reporting symptoms will need to remember exactly where they’ve been and who they had contact with in the days leading up to their positive test.

But what about shoppers who just happened to be in the supermarket at the same time?

Orgasm? Abs-olute nonsense

I HAVE never exactly been a gym bunny, so exercise revelations are often lost on me. But now I really have heard it all.

Apparently, some fitness fanatics enjoy doing sit-ups so much it leads them to experience an exercise-induced orgasm, also known as a “coregasm”.

When New York fitness trainer Bec Donlan asked her Instagram followers if this had happened to them, multiple women said it had.

Is this just a New York thing?

Have YOU ever experienced a coregasm from doing ab exercises?
Me neither.

Kimye lockdown split

I AM sure a lot of couples wished they’d had another house to escape to over the past three months.

They will relate to Kim Kardashian, who is considering moving to a different house to spend time apart from husband Kanye West.

But surely a couple who live in a 30-room mansion could find a little space from each other AT home.

Forgetful Paddy

I WAS not surprised to read that Paddy McGuinness forgot his ninth wedding anniversary – despite wife Christine pulling out all the stops with heart-shaped cupcakes and helium balloons.

I’ve forgotten mine multiple times.

Not this year, though. Next Wednesday I’ll have been married for 25 years.

I don’t need a cake, balloons, a card or anything else.

I’d just like another 25 years, please.

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