Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 12:29 UK

Profile: Gerry and Kate McCann

Kate and Gerry McCann
Kate and Gerry McCann were thrown into the public spotlight

Gerry and Kate McCann were thrust into the public eye - and under the media microscope - when their daughter Madeleine disappeared.

Before this, the couple, both doctors, brought up Madeleine and her younger siblings Sean and Amelie in the quiet village of Rothley in Leicestershire.

But when their daughter vanished, everything changed.

From that moment their lives, beliefs and behaviour were scrutinised, and Rothley was quiet no more, as their home became a focus of global media attention.

Even their local Post Office was bombarded - not with questions like the couple themselves, but with three crates of mail that arrived for them each day.

Working lives

When the couple first appealed for help to find their daughter, 39-year-old Gerry was the more vocal.

He addressed the press packed into the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, while Kate, also 39, mostly stood in silence by his side, holding his hand and clutching Madeleine's favourite toy, Cuddle Cat.

Often appearing tired and strained, the sudden weight of the world's media seemed to visibly weigh her down.

Before Madeleine disappeared, Kate, who is from Liverpool, worked as a GP at Latham House Surgery in Leicestershire.

We are not characters in a soap opera or a fiction
Gerry McCann

Gerry, originally from Glasgow, was a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital. While his wife has yet to return to work, he chose to go back part-time in November.

Around the same time, he also told The Times he had decided to go ahead with a research fellowship he was awarded by the British Heart Foundation after Madeleine vanished.

He told the newspaper that although it meant almost nothing to him in terms of professional advancement, it might one day help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Keeping faith

Throughout their time in the media spotlight the McCanns have been surrounded - and defended - by family and friends, especially after they were declared official suspects - or "arguidos" - in September.

Gerry's brother John and sister Philomena have been particularly vocal, rubbishing allegations made against them.

Kate and Gerry McCann with Pope Benedict
Kate McCann showed a picture of Madeleine to the Pope

And Gerry and Kate themselves say on the Find Madeleine website: "Family has always been incredibly important to us."

From the beginning of their ordeal, the McCanns have also cited the importance of their faith in keeping them going.

Kate's belief in Catholicism is long-standing, while her husband is said to have had his renewed during their struggle.

He said that attending Mass in Praia da Luz in the days after Madeleine vanished gave them both "strength, courage and hope".

Nevertheless, Kate broke down publicly at a church service to mark a calendar month after her disappearance, bursting into tears after a young Portuguese girl kissed her during the service.

The couple were granted a brief audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome last May.

Kate, visibly upset and close to tears, showed the Pope a photograph of Madeleine, which he blessed.

Legal damages

Over time, the McCanns appear to have become more confident in their handling of the press, despite facing a constant barrage of painful questions.

Daily Express and Daily Star
The McCanns received a public apology from the newspapers

Kate has given some interviews by herself, and last August she appeared in a video posted on the Don't You Forget About Me channel on the YouTube website, set up to help find her daughter and other missing children.

They have also hit back at wilder headlines, winning 550,000 in damages from the Express Newspapers after suggestions they were responsible for Madeleine's death.

In an interview to mark the anniversary of her disappearance, Gerry said he wanted to remind people that despite living their lives in public for a year, they were real human beings.

"We are not characters in a soap opera or a fiction," he said.

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