McCanns join run to support missing people charity

The parents of Madeleine McCann today joined 450 runners to take part in a 10km fun run for missing people.

Gerry and Kate McCann lined up together alongside other families whose loved ones vanished at the first ever Miles for Missing People in London's Hyde Park.

The couple wore matching white T-shirts bearing a smiling picture of their daughter and the words "Don't give up on me".

Mrs McCann, 42, and her husband Gerry, 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were on holiday with their three children in Praia da Luz in Portugal when Madeleine went missing in May 2007.

In an earlier statement, Mrs McCann said: "Gerry and I know the pain that having Madeleine missing has caused us, but sadly we are not alone. There are thousands of families across the UK waiting for news.

"That's why Missing People provides support for missing children, vulnerable adults and families left behind, and we want to do all we can to help them."

Among the runners was Rachel Elias, 40, from Blackwood, Gwent, south Wales, sister of former Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards, who went missing in February 1995.

She said: "I am running it for my brother and for all the other people who have disappeared and to support the work of this charity. They have been a tremendous source of strength over the last 15 years.

"He was legally declared dead in November 2008, but there is no certainty over the loss, there is that hope.

"There are moments when you swing between hope and despair, sometimes you feel different emotions at the same time which can be very confusing.

"People describe a missing person as a loss. It is a loss but an ambiguous loss. Until he is found alive or dead we will always have hope."

Also supporting today's event was Nicki Durbin, 41, from Hollesley, Suffolk, whose son Luke disappeared in May 2006 aged 19 following an evening at a nightclub in Ipswich.

She said: "My son has been missing for nearly four years. Missing People is the national charity that has helped us since Luke first went missing.

"Other families have been a lifeline, it's very important to get together and talk to people who completely understand your situation.

"I think I am constantly grieving for my son. I believe something sinister happened, but there is still that chance that he is alive.

I feel I have become a master at masking my despair but it is always there."

BBC3 television presenter Kirsten O'Brien, who worked alongside the late presenter Mark Speight, helped spur on runners as they warmed up at the start next to the bandstand accompanied by the Rock Choir.

She said: "After Mark went missing, it really struck me how helpful it is to have a port of call for people whose loved ones or friends have gone missing. To see the charity in action struck a chord with me.

"Because Mark was so funny there are times when I recall something he did and I just laugh, it's nice to have that joyous element back."

Martin Houghton-Brown, CEO of Missing People, added: "It is a really important day. It is not just about the families who have someone missing, it is about Britain as a whole recognising that this is an issue that can affect anybody.

"When somebody goes missing the friends and family need a huge amount of support. Missing People is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The event has already raised in excess of £20,000.

The McCanns are raising funds for her run at