Why is it, when you are poised to record something that everything goes wrong… Yes the bloody phone and the doorbell just as Kate McCann was due to speak about her Ambassador role on This Morning… I post on a forum called Stop The Myths and said I missed it.
Luckily I have a very good friend who did not miss it, anyway here is the video.
Holly Willoughby Over the five years since her daughter, Madeleine, disappeared whilst on a family holiday in Portugal, Kate McCann has had first hand experience of dealing with the pain and heartbreak of having a loved one go missing.
Phillip Schofield Well, whilst the search for her daughter continues, Kate is about to help launch a brand new initiative that will hopefully help find some of the thousands of people that go missing in the UK each year. And Kate is here now to tell us all about it. And we were just saying then you don’t do many of these things on your own do you?
Kate McCann I don’t. Usually I have Gerry next to me. You’re right.
PS Well this is a big, a very big launch. And the launch is tomorrow. The biggest billboard campaign in British history. So how is it going to work? What is it?
KM Well basically its a twelve-week nationwide campaign. And the Outdoor Media Centre which is kind of the trade body for all the outdoor media owners, so all the people that own billboard space in your cities, towns, on your public transport. They’ve teamed up with the charity Missing People basically to try and find missing children and adults. So starting tomorrow, across these screens there’ll be featured one child and one adult per week. So there’ll be a photograph, the location, time of when they were last seen and a number 116000 to call. And the idea is we know that outdoor advertising works and we know that publicity is crucial to help find missing children. And it works. And thats why its….
HW But not only that, its a speed thing as well and because these are screens it can be updated quickly can’t it?
KM Absolutely, the response time to change an appeal if needed; if more information comes in and they need to change it; if a child is found and they need to put another appeal up quickly, they can do that pretty much instantly.
PS Well, there are 250.000 people who go missing each year in the UK. Thankfully, the majority are found. But the heartache for the families whose missing member of the family hasn’t been found is extensive and ongoing isn’t it? Obviously its something that you know.
KM Yeah, it is. Its erm, I mean not only do you go through the pain and anxiety and fear you have that relentlessness and uncertainty of not knowing and that doesn’t go away.
PS And so, and so this is your first official role as Ambassador for Missing People?
KM It is, yeah.
PS Yeah, and so there is a great feeling that this open loop technology, this with the ability to update screens very quickly erm. will help certainly erm, when it comes to resolving a case. Because there is always good news. The girl who was due to feature prominently in the campaign has been found which is fabulous.
KM Yeah its brilliant, really good.
PS But a new child obviously is very quickly going to become the focus of that cam…, campaign. Its not just children either though is it?
KM No its not. Its vulnerable adults who go missing as well. I think primarily erm, or largely it is going to be children that will be featured but there will be adults too.
HW So, I guess the idea is that if you see one of these billboards in your town centre, just stop and look.
HW Because you never know, you might hold the key or some bit of information to help find that person.
KM No, thats right and I think everyone can play a part and its estimated that ten million people will actually see these boards. You know, obviously we’ve got the summer coming up, we’ve got the Olympics. And I guess, yeah, please stop, take a look. You know, its a cliche but one person can make a difference.
HW I saw all the tweets on National Missing Persons Day and the charity were tweeting every thirty minutes a picture of somebody that had gone missing and it was going on throughout the day. And I thought it was brilliant but two people were found that day.
KM Thats right. Two teenagers were found, yeah.
HW So it just goes to show so actually this works.
KM It does work. And I mean you can speak to the experts in the States and they can give you example after example. It really does work and as I say everybody, everybody can help.
PS Is there chance that this would, that this campaign if it were successful here which I’m sure it would be, will be extended throughout the rest of Europe?
KM Well certainly its an initial twelve week campaign but I think it probably will continue. It may become more regionally based. I’m not sure whether it will extend into Europe. It would be fantastic if it could or if there’s any other companies that can come forward because basically the Outdoor Media Centre have…, you know, they’re putting one million pounds towards this campaign. And we do need people like that; companies, organisations in order to make initiatives like this happen.
PS You also, I mean, have acted on many fronts because you’ve launched the European Hotline as well for missing people. You launched that in May. How’s that gone?
KM Very good from what I’ve heard so far. There’s been a lot of new people coming to the number, whether it be by phone or email or to the website which is encouraging. They’ve had a lot of calls. On average probably about 130 calls per day (HW Wow.) each day, just to that number alone. Obviously the other numbers are active at the moment erm, but it just shows really how a campaign can, you know (HW Really help.) by penetration.
HW And I guess having that sort of network of countries all working together, again that quickness and that response is what is so important in that situation.
KM It does. I mean its a simple number, one number to remember erm, and wherever you are in Europe in those sixteen countries that so far have the number, ring that number and you will end up, you know if its not the right place you’ll be put through straight away to the right place.
PS We were saying about the effects of a missing person on a family, this sort of far-reaching explosion that goes out throughout the whole family, its ripple effect. I was reading in the paper this morning erm, that you were saying that your own two children, Sean and Amelie, that…, that they, they still take an interest in the fact that other people take an interest in what you’ve gone through.
KM Yeah, as a family member who has a loved one missing, I mean its so painful. And I think you need to know…, you feel helpless but you need to know that there’s other people helping too. I mean it just gives you great hope and strength and there’s so many families out there in similar positions. And… You know this campaign itself will help all these families.
PS And what about, what about you? Because DCI Andy Redwood who’s leading the review of the evidence in your case, said his team were developing genuinely new information. Erm, what are you aware of, where is the case now?
KM Whilst I don’t know all the information, I know new information has come in that has to be followed up and obviously there’s a lot of information thats come from the files from the review as well. We’re at the stage really that we’re hoping for the case to be re-opened. So there isn’t really any change from where we stand since May.
PS The Portuguese officials because in April the Portuguese Attorney General appeared to rule out the re-opening of the case. Is it still a case of persuading them or getting them further on board?
KM Well I hope so. I mean I think we felt we needed to allow more time for people to, you know, for the authorities to look at the evidence really. (PS Yeah) before they made a decision.
PS Its one of those things, you wonder when you read the newspapers and you think I wonder how helpful this is to the family because at the centre of every big newspaper report there is a family thats going to be reading it and maybe not wanting to see it and there was the evidence from Stephen Birch who spent £40,000 on a scanner, took scans of the Praia da Luz area and said that he found a void underneath there. Are you aware of all of that?
KM Yeah, I mean that, you know the MET let us know about it in advance of it hitting the newspaper. I guess, you know, there was no credibility to it. I mean who is this person at the end of the day? You know, so…
HW You have your own campaign this summer don’t you, and this is the luggage tags?
KM Well, I mean, we’re just carrying on basically what we’ve (HW Continuing, yeah.) what we’ve done the last few years really. When people go on holiday in the summer, we’re saying please, you know, take some posters, take some luggage tags. As you know, as you know we had a new age progression produced and launched in April.
PS Yes, this is it here.
KM You know and its the same basis really for this campaign. Its so important to get an image out there. You know, as I say there will be ten million people viewing the images that go up on these billboards. Its the same with Madeleine, the more people that you reach, you know, the greater the chance you have of finding that child.
PS Well as we say, tomorrow is the big launch. Its the, as we said at the very beginning, the biggest billboard campaign in British history and er, as Kate was saying just take a couple of minutes to look up and see whether or not you recognise or you can help any of the people that will appear on these billboards. And thank you very much indeed for…
KM And thank you for the opportunity.
PS Yeah, not at all. If you would like any help or any information on anything we have just discussed, then you can find details and helplines and all the numbers that we were talking about as well on our website itv.com/thismorning.
HS We’ll be back after the break.