By James Murray and Tracey Kandohla
Defiant Kate and Gerry McCann will mark the 1,000th day since their daughter disappeared with a celebrity packed £150-a-head fundraising dinner and auction at a top London venue.
Tycoon Sir Richard Branson and their businessman backer Brian Kennedy will join stars at Kensington Roof Gardens in west London on January 27.
Radio Five’s Nicky Campbell and children’s author JK Rowling have also been invited.
The event for 180 supporters comes in the middle of the couple’s tense court battle against their tormentor, former police chief Goncalo Amaral, in Lisbon and gives them a night of light relief after weeks of stress.
Kate, 41, said yesterday: “We will raise money for Madeleine’s Fund and the ongoing search for her.
“If our circumstances remain unchanged, this day will sadly mark 1,000 days since Madeleine was taken from us.”
Money will be raised through ticket sales and a charity auction. Half the profits, expected to exceed £100,000, will go to Madeleine’s Fund, which currently stands at about £400,000, with the other half split between two other charities.
Kate explained: “Madeleine’s Fund is not depleted but we are aware, given the uncertainty of our situation, that we need to plan ahead to continue the search to find her.”
Kate said: “Fifty per cent of the profits from the event will be split between two charities, Missing People and Missing Children Europe.
“These two charities are among many others who work incredibly hard despite limited funding to help missing and exploited children.”
A close friend of the McCanns, who live in Rothley, Leicestershire, said: “Kate and Gerry are hoping to raise as much money as possible to help them and two other charities.
“The guests are people who have pledged their support to help find Madeleine, including celebrities and wealthy business people.”
The friend added: “The event doesn’t indicate that the fund is in crisis but money does need to come in.” Madeleine vanished from her parents’ holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.
The Portugese police have shelved the case, leaving the McCanns effectively on their own and needing a flow of cash to finance the hunt for leads into their daughter’s disappearance, though there is a certain amount of support from Leicestershire Police.
source: Sunday Express, 17.01.2010