He opened his heart to BBC Radio 4 listeners yesterday, describing the pain he and wife Kate felt when the little girl vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Algarve just short of her fourth birthday 11 years ago.
Cardiologist Gerry, 50, said: “We are incredibly resilient for the most part, and people and time make the pain ease. The grief and the loss and some of the pain we have is the not knowing but I certainly don’t wish her dead.
“That is not a trade-off at any point.”
He added: “I have dreamt about her, including in the last few months, but it’s not frequent.
“I certainly did believe in Heaven.. right now… it is an instinctive reaction… I feel we will be reunited at some point.
“I just want to hug her and hold her and I cry a lot.”
During the broadcast, Pearl: Two Fathers, Two Daughters a broadcast about fathers dealing with the loss of daughters, Gerry wept openly.
Poet Simon Armitage, whose 2010 poem The Beacon marked the 1,000th day of Madeleine’s disappearance, translated a medieval poem, Pearl, about a father’s loss.
Actors Iain Glen and Grace Doherty read out emotional passages, while Gerry relived the 2007 tragedy at Praia da Luz.
He recalled that Madeleine wanted to swim in a pool at their resort in Praia da Luz despite the cold. Then one night, while he and Kate ate at a tapas bar with friends, the youngster vanished from the apartment and has never been seen since.
They searched the streets but then went to another apartment with their 18-month-old twins Sean and Amelie.
“Kate was saying she wanted to go back out and search and I said wait until it is light,” he recalled.
“There was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, that we couldn’t do anything. Kate was saying it was so cold.
“That first night felt like it lasted for ever. Didn’t sleep, and we went out first thing again. We were walking around the streets shouting Madeleine’s name. Dogs were barking and the streets were deserted.”
The next day they made statements at a police station, returning to the apartment to find scores of reporters. He appealed for her safe return amid a blizzard of camera lights.
Fear and anxiety gripped the couple and they felt the sickest they have ever felt.
They couldn’t eat or sleep properly but were comforted by support from friends and family. During one sleepless night they called a counsellor in the early hours.
Gerry said: “We were paddling furiously under the water just to keep our noses above the surface… so close to drowning, that is what it felt like.
“The worst thing for anyone is not knowing what is happening. Without doubt family support was incredible but we were crumbling. I would go into the bedroom, lie down and cry. Sometimes letting the emotional release happen was important.”
Both he and Kate were brought up as Catholics and praying in the local church helped them but Gerry said his faith has “waxed and waned”.
He finds it hard to accept his daughter is still missing despite millions of prayers being said for her.
They stayed in Portugal for a while because they had wanted to stay close to where Madeleine went missing.
But after being made arguidos, or suspects – a status that was later lifted – they felt they had to leave Portugal in September 2007 and return to their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.
“The whole journey to the airport was like something out of a horror movie,” he said.
“The whole of the first 15 months felt like one acute episode of grief and loss and pain.”
Their twins helped them cope, and it would have been even worse if Madeleine had been their only child.
He said: “There’s never a day goes by when I don’t think about Madeleine and the situation.”
Source : EXPRESS