Madeleine McCann’s sister, 18, speaks publicly for the first time since she vanished

Amelie McCann, 18, offered some moving words on the 16th anniversary of her sister’s disappearance (Picture: Splash News/AP)

Madeleine McCann’s younger sister has spoken in public for the first time since the girl disappeared in May 2007.

Amelie McCann, now 18, lit a candle in her sister’s memory at a vigil and told people ‘it’s nice everyone is here together but it’s a sad occasion’.

Pictures of her older sister were hung up on railings in Rothley, Leicestershire, and a lantern still glows around the clock for Maddie.

She was joined by her friend Georgina, and the pair knelt down to read and take in messages written for Maddie.

It is the first time Amelie – who is applying for university – has been pictured in public as an adult.

She joined her parents Kate and Gerry McCann but her twin brother Sean did not attend as supporters gathered for an informal prayer.

Kate’s close friend Fiona Payne, who was on holiday with the McCann family in 2007, was among the crowd.

While Kate and Gerry did not address the crowds, the parents were moved to tears by the vigil.

Amelie joined her parents Kate and Gerry (Picture: Splash News)

Amelie was joined by her friend Georgina (Picture: Splash News)

Madeleine McCann has been missing for 16 years (Picture: AP)

But Fiona shared a hug with Kate and read a poem called ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ by Emily Dickinson.

The vicar of the local parish Reverend Rob Gladstone led the service and said: ‘We are here this evening to show our loving concern for Madeleine and for all young children who have been taken away from their families against their will.

‘We are also here to encourage one another to keep up hope and pray for a renewal of strength even after this long time.’

Kate’s uncle, Brian Kennedy, 84, said after the event: ‘Kate and Gerry are very moved by the size of the group of people who turned up.

‘After all these years people still assemble – some come every time and some are new and we are very grateful.’

Kate McCann was moved to tears at one point (Picture: Splash News)

Locals and supporters gathered to support the family (Picture: Splash News)

He also addressed supporters during the event and said: ‘Sixteen years without someone and still not knowing where they are is a very long time. Even if it was bad news, in some ways, would give us some closure.

‘But with no closure there is still hope.’

The main suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is Christian Brueckner who was arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and a ‘no body’ murder.

The 45-year-old is serving a jail sentence in Germany for the rape of an American tourist in the same Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz Maddie vanished from.

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The convicted paedophile may never face a trial over Maddie’s case because of a legal technicality over foreign courts’ jurisdiction.

Kate and Gerry McCann issued a statement yesterday on the 16th anniversary since their daughter went missing.

A woman named Julie Wendell also claimed in a recent online post she was Madeleine McCann but DNA test results revealed this was not the case.

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