21/12/2012 10:01 GMT | Updated 21/12/2012 10:01 GMT

Madeleine McCann's Parents Kate And Gerry Say Christmas 'Never As It Should Be' Without Her

This time of year will "never be as it should", the parents of missing Madeleine McCann said today as they prepare for a sixth Christmas without their daughter.

Kate and Gerry McCann said the eldest child's absence is acutely felt by the family, including by younger siblings Sean and Amelie, with the words "If only Madeleine was here too" a regular occurrence.

In a Christmas message written on the Find Madeleine website, Mrs McCann thanked people for their support and said they remain hopeful that the Portuguese authorities will reopen the case.

kate and gerry

Gerry and Kate McCann are preparing for a sixth Christmas without their daughter

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents dined at a tapas restaurant with friends nearby.

Her parents have campaigned tirelessly for information on their daughter's whereabouts, battling for a review by the Metropolitan Police, which was brought about in May 2011.

Mrs McCann wrote: "As we approach the end of another year, we'd like to thank everyone again for their amazing support.

"It is both heart-warming and reassuring to know that after all this time Madeleine still remains in so many people's hearts and minds. This solidarity and commitment gives us great hope. Thank you."

She said they had been "really impressed and greatly encouraged" by the work done on the review, which was showing there are "definitely many stones yet to turn".

"We continue to wait and hope that the Portuguese authorities will agree to reopen the case so that the many lines of inquiry can be investigated," she said.

"As Madeleine's parents, we won't be able to rest until we know that all that can be feasibly done to find her, and the person who took her, has been done."

This year Madeleine's Fund has paid for various things towards the campaign and investigation, including a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone line; a small investigation team, including a Portuguese speaker; part-time administrative support; the running of the Find Madeleine website; and help from a specialist Portuguese communications agency.

Mrs McCann said that since March, the independent "physical" investigation of lines of inquiry by their team was put on hold while the Met Police's review progresses, to avoid duplication.

The fund's finances have "significantly improved", Mrs McCann said, due to sales of her book Madeleine, published in 2011, as well as reduced costs because of the investigation being on hold.

But she said the directors of the fund thought it should maintain reasonable reserves so the search for Madeleine can be resumed quickly if the Met Police review leads to the case being reopened in Portugal.

"We desperately hope of course that the official investigation to find Madeleine will be reopened - and soon - as we still believe this is probably our best chance of finding our little girl," she added.

"Despite becoming stronger in ourselves and being able to create as special a Christmas as possible for our children, this time of year will never be as it should without Madeleine.

"Whilst Gerry and I think it constantly, Sean and Amelie now vocalise it, especially when doing something really nice like putting up the decorations... 'If only Madeleine was here too...'"

Pleading for any information, Mrs McCann said: "If you know what has happened to Madeleine, or where she might be now, please, please do the right thing: Find the compassion and courage and let us know. Thank you.

"This past weekend we sat and opened the many, many Christmas cards which have been sent to us, at what is now our sixth Christmas without Madeleine. The majority were from people we have never met. It was once again a very humbling yet totally uplifting experience.

"We are deeply touched by the thoughtfulness and compassion which we continue to experience and for the love and hope which shine through for Madeleine. Thank you so much. It means such a lot - and helps us immensely.

"Merry Christmas to all of our supporters. We wish you a festive period full of laughter, warmth and friendship - and hope for a special 2013."