Madeleine - 1,000 days on

Leicestershire couple Kate and Gerry McCann have admitted that nothing has changed for them since the "terrifying" night when their daughter Madeleine went missing exactly 1,000 days ago.

The couple, from Rothley, are marking the sad anniversary with a fund-raising event attended by their celebrity supporters in London and by launching 1,000 glowing paper lanterns into the night sky.

The McCanns said it sometimes felt wrong that they were coping with life without Madeleine - but added that otherwise there would be no search for the little girl.

In a poignant statement they said: "Today marks 1,000 days since Madeleine was taken from us. It's hard to even say the number. We remember the first few days after Madeleine was taken, watching the clock and counting every hour. Now we've reached 1,000 days. It's difficult sometimes to understand how we've been able to keep going and survive without Madeleine, especially since nothing has changed since that terrifying first night.

"Madeleine is still missing. Sometimes it even feels wrong to be coping. And yet if we weren't, there would be no search and no campaign to find Madeleine and that just doesn't bear thinking about."

Madeleine was nearly four when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal on May 3, 2007, while her parents dined with friends nearby.

About 180 guests are expected to attend the McCanns' £150-a-head fundraising dinner, raffle and auction at Kensington Roof Gardens in west London. It is understood that those invited include Sir Richard Branson, who owns the exclusive venue, Harry Potter author JK Rowling and the couple's millionaire backer Brian Kennedy.

Half the money raised will go to the McCanns' fund to find Madeleine, and the other half will be split between the charities Missing People and Missing Children Europe.

A new poem about Madeleine by Simon Armitage called 'The Beacon', which was especially written for the 1,000-day landmark, is expected to be read at the event.

The McCanns, both 41, said of the poem: "We think it is an incredible and really beautiful sonnet. It manages to convey so accurately and succinctly both our darker moments and the reality of hope and possibility, as well as including powerful and touching references to Madeleine."