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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Minute silence held for Madeleine
Madeleine McCann
A minute's silence has been held in Portugal for Madeleine McCann
A one-minute silence has been held in Portugal in solidarity with the family of the missing four-year-old girl Madeleine McCann.

The silence was initiated by an anonymous chain email circulated around the country at the weekend, and was observed at midday.

Madeleine from Rothley, Leicestershire, was snatched in Portugal 18 days ago.

Madeleine's father, Gerry, has flown back to the UK to meet organisers of the campaign to find his daughter.

Kate McCann observed the silence privately at the family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

Senior detectives in Portimao, who are investigating Madeleine's disappearance, also stopped for one minute.

Mr McCann is expected to spend just over 24 hours away from his wife and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

He will also deal with personal matters during the family's first time apart since Madeleine's abduction on 3 May.

We build our hopes up and then you find them dashed again and that is how it goes on. It is a roller coaster at present
Brian Kennedy

Mr McCann is a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and his friend and colleague Dr Doug Skehan said he would be involved in meetings for most of Monday.

"He feels pretty pressurised at the moment. He has got meetings he is committed to," Dr Skehan said.

"I think he is OK. But he knows there is quite a few important decisions to make about where to proceed from now."

Mr McCann arrived at East Midlands Airport in the early hours of Monday morning and will return to Portugal on Tuesday.

In addition to meeting campaign organisers, it is thought his visit will also help arrange for the family to stay in Portugal for the foreseeable future.

International campaign

The McCann family are spearheading a campaign to imprint Madeleine's image on the minds of people across Europe and North Africa in the hope she will be found.

They remain convinced she is alive and well.

Brian Kennedy
Mr Kennedy said public support had been invaluable to the McCanns

The latest public display of support has come from the Liverpool football team, who were photographed on Monday with a banner asking for information of Madeleine's whereabouts, prior to their departure to Athens for their Champions League final match on Wednesday.

Madeleine's great-uncle, Brian Kennedy, said "astonishing" public support had kept the family going through "bleak" times.

Mr Kennedy said Madeleine's relatives were aware of Mr McCann's "brief, private visit home" which "was mainly regarding legal matters".

He said it was the great public support that was helping the family through the "bleak moments".

He told BBC News: "We have very low periods. The press conferences that have come from Portugal haven't really told us anything.

"We build our hopes up and then you find them dashed again and that is how it goes on. It is a roller coaster at present."

The Liverpool FC team with a banner for Madeleine
Liverpool FC have appealed for more information on Madeleine

Meanwhile, money has been pouring in to the Find Madeleine fighting fund.

The latest total is 73,505, which includes 50,000 from Portsmouth Football Club but not money collected by banks and building societies and cheques yet to clear.

A website set up to find the missing child has received around 100 million hits and 50,000 messages of support since its launch on Wednesday.

Details of how to donate to Madeleine's Fund - at banks, by post or via the internet - can be found at www.findmadeleine.com.

The ongoing campaign to find Madeleine McCann

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