She is a little girl once more, her eyelids glistening with blue eyeshadow, a pink ribbon holding her blonde bob in place and a gold necklace hanging from her neck. Or at least that is how Madeleine McCann appears in a new video released today to mark a bitter anniversary, as her desperate parents attempt to refocus the world's attention on their missing daughter.
The still pictures of Madeleine messing around with her mother's make-up and jewellery at her home punctuate a poignant video, shot by a family friend to commemorate the 1,000th day since her disappearance, and which is being made available for all to watch and remember the anguish of those first few painful days.
Gerry and Kate McCann hope the video might achieve the impossible and jog someone's, anyone's, memory about their daughter, who vanished three years ago tomorrow on that fateful Portuguese holiday. They want to put the spotlight back on the campaign to find Madeleine – who is days away from her seventh birthday, if she is still alive – a campaign which they have never abandoned, despite the Portuguese police doing so long ago.
The short film starts with a computer graphic of the holiday complex in Praia da Luz in the Algarve where Madeleine vanished on 3 May 2007. It goes on to show the McCanns handing out posters as they launched their campaign to find their oldest child. Viewers can watch first Kate pounding the Portuguese streets, anxiously searching for clues, and later the couple answering telephone calls and sifting through emails back home in Rothley, Leicestershire. It closes with the message: "Thank you for not giving up on Madeleine. Together we can bring her home."
The couple have reiterated that they are not giving up on what has so far been a fruitless investigation, costing sums that have topped seven figures. While they are as determined as ever to carry on, Portuguese police called time on the hunt more than 18 months ago. Mr McCann told the BBC yesterday it was "fundamentally unacceptable" that there had been no active police investigation during that time, but he added he had "been assured" that new information would be followed up.
They intend to ask police to reopen the case to follow new leads uncovered by private detectives working for the Find Madeleine fund. A team including two retired British police officers, Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley, is still working to find her.
The McCanns are still urging people to display posters or car bumper stickers, wear a Madeleine T-shirt or wristband, or even to use a Madeleine luggage tag when they go on holiday. They are clinging to the hope that one in six children is found after their face is recognised from a poster, which is why they have released the new photo of what their daughter might look like now if she is still alive.
A special Mass will be said for the missing child and her family at the parish church of her grandparents, Susan and Brian Healy, in the Childwall suburb of Liverpool, tomorrow evening.
Information about Madeleine's disappearance can be passed to the McCanns through their website, www.findmadeleine.com, or phoned to +44 845 838 4699.