Madeleine McCann's parents missing from Missing Children's Day service
The parents of children who have disappeared have marked International Missing Children's Day with a special service.
The ceremony was held at Leicester Cathedral - the day particularly poignant to the city because of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal two years ago.
According to the charity Missing, since then 1,200 young people have disappeared.
Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, launched the event last week but were not at the service. Other members of the McCann family were - all working together to try and raise the profile of all missing children.
On Friday, Mr and Mrs McCann met with parents of other youngsters who have disappeared.
At an event on London's South Bank, the couple spoke of how they could not bear to meet other families in their situation in the weeks after Madeleine vanished from Praia du Luz in 2007.
But they explained they now draw strength from sharing their experiences.
Mrs McCann said: "It's easy to meet families where the children have been found because that gives you hope.
"But, obviously, emotionally it is quite difficult to put yourself in a situation where a child has been missing for years and years. Obviously now it is easier, and I have to say it's been a comfort."
Her husband added: "Early on Kate and I couldn't even entertain the idea of speaking to another family whose child was still missing, particularly for a long time, because you think, 'I just hope we don't get there'."
The McCanns appeared alongside the relatives of Katrice Lee, who was two when she disappeared from a supermarket in Germany in November 1981.
Mr McCann explained that speaking to the Lee family had been especially helpful because of the similarity of their situations.
He said: "What they have gone through is very similar, and the whole experience is similar, particularly the barriers that they faced. And an abduction in a foreign country adds a different dimension to everything that you face."
The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, made a heartfelt plea for the public to keep thinking about missing children even after they slip out of the headlines.
The event also heard from ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen and experts who spoke of moves to improve information-sharing about missing children both within the UK and abroad.
Posted by Jill Havern - CMOMM
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