I’M A GRANDMA AT 21!
MISSING BRITISH GIRL MADDIE MCCANN WOULD BE TURNING 17 THIS YEAR …
Mark, 56, and Becca Keeley, 21, met five years ago at a rock’n’roll concert, when Becca was aged just 16.
But despite not everyone approving, the couple tied the knot in 2018 and now have a daughter of their own.
Becca is also happily adapting to life as a step-gran to Mark’s granddaughter, Mollie, 7 months – while being six years younger than the eldest of her husband’s four children from a previous relationship, Aaron, 27, Jake, 21, Luke, 16 and Emma, 13.
“We always laugh because I’m probably the youngest nan in the UK,” Becca tells New Idea. “I became a step-nan before I was 21, and my daughter, Presley, was an aunt before she was even born.”
Becca, who welcomed her 5-month-old daughter Presley last October, is thrilled that her daughter is just three months younger than her Aunty Mollie.
“Mark said I surely wouldn’t want to be called Nan, but his family are my family,” Becca laughs. “The age gap has never bothered me because I’m so happy and it just works so well – I know how much he cares about me and how much he loves me.
“Age is just a number, it’s really nobody else’s business.”
The pair met at a gig in 2015 where singer Mark was performing with his band, and they quickly became an item, despite Mark’s initial reservations.
Becca, who had one previous boyfriend, was told by her friends to be cautious when they realised Mark’s age.
“At first friends warned me to be careful, but I didn’t care.
“When we were younger, I would sit and dream about having a house and a family and I’ve got that now,” she says.
Mark claims he has barely spoken to his parents since he and full-time mum Becca’s relationship began, and he says some of his relatives haven’t even met little Presley.
With a 35-year age gap, the couple regularly get mistaken for father and daughter.
But surprisingly, Becca and
“AT FIRST FRIENDS WARNED ME TO BE CAREFUL, BUT I DIDN’T CARE”
Mark have had the full support of her parents since she introduced them to her older boyfriend just six months into the relationship.
“I was nervous introducing him to my family,” Becca admits.
“I texted my dad saying ‘I’ve met someone and you aren’t going to be happy because he’s older’ but he just said he was fine with it as long as I’m happy.”
“It’s got nothing to do with anyone else. As long as my mum and dad are alright, then no-one else can have a say.”
But as Mark is over three decades older than Becca, out in public they are used to strangers getting confused about their relationship.
“We were in a restaurant once and Mark went outside to park the car,” Becca explains.
“The waiter came over and asked if I wanted to wait for my dad to get back. It has happened a few times.”
Mark proposed two years into their relationship while the pair were on holiday in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, and the couple tied the knot at a registry office wedding in August 2018 in front of 300 guests.
Mark says: “Originally I didn’t want more children, but I wasn’t going to let Becca down.
“When baby Presley was born, the response was out of this world – the amount of people congratulating us was amazing.”
Becca says the couple have no plans to have any more children and admitted she tries not to worry about what the practicalities of the age gap will mean as Mark gets older.
“I try not to think too much about the future,” she says.
“I know he won’t be around for all of Presley’s life, and that does make me teary. She got her name because Elvis is Mark’s god and I want her to always have a piece of him.
“I’ve told Mark that when he is gone, I don’t want another fella,” Becca says.
“I plan on buying some land and having all the horses and dogs in the world – I’ll be the crazy animal lady rather than meeting anyone else.”
It’s been 13 years since British toddler Madeleine Mccann’s parents tucked her into bed, kissed her goodnight and headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
The 3-year-old girl, on holiday with her family in a Portuguese seaside resort, was never seen again, thus sparking one of the world’s most headline-grabbing crime mysteries.
Was she killed, or kidnapped? Why has she never been found, dead or alive? Despite police investigations that continue to this day, Madeleine’s disappearance remains unsolved.
Photos of her sweet face framed in blonde hair, and a distinctive enlarged pupil in one eye, appeared around the globe, as her desperate parents, Kate and Gerry, begged people to help find their child.
“Every parent in the universe could relate to the torment her mother and father were feeling,” says crime journalist Diane Dimond.
On the night she vanished, the Mccanns were holidaying at an apartment complex in the village of Praia da Luz with seven friends and their children.
Kate and Gerry, both doctors, would spend the day at the resort with Maddie and 2-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, then put them to bed and join the other adults for dinner at a restaurant close by.
“This group of friends would all leave their children asleep in their individual apartments with the doors unlocked, and every half hour, one of the adults would go and check on the children. The system had worked well all week,” explains Diane.
But at 10pm on May 3, 2007, Kate, who’d gone to check on her children, returned to the restaurant screaming, “Madeleine’s gone!”
After a frantic search by the group,
Portuguese police were called, and thus began a living hell for the Mccanns that continues to this day. A witness said he’d seen a man carrying a child near the Mccanns’ apartment that night, but police were unable to track him down. Over ensuing days, they neglected to cordon off vital areas to collect forensic evidence, and failed to track down and interrogate local criminals. Frustrated with the local police, the Mccanns contacted UK journalists, asking them to help publicise Maddie’s disappearance. Soon the case was front-page news, and British police headed to Portugal to help investigate. They brought in sniffer dogs – and they displayed an excited reaction to an area in the Mccanns’ rented apartment, as well as their hire car.
This prompted Portuguese police to focus on Kate and Gerry, declaring that they were major suspects over Maddie’s disappearance. The distraught Mccanns were suddenly having to endure ugly headlines suggesting they’d harmed their own daughter.
It was later established that
a previous guest at the apartment the Mccanns had rented was the cause of the sniffer dog reaction: a guest had cut herself badly in the apartment. As for the blood in the hire car, it turned out to be from leaking supermarket meat.
“I think the Portuguese police did permanent damage to the case from the get go,” says Diane. “Not only did they torment the Mccanns with these unfair accusations, they also diverted the investigation into the wrong areas.
“It’s only when Scotland Yard detectives became involved months later that a proper investigation really began, but too much vital time had elapsed,” Diane laments.
The Portuguese police’s probe into Maddie’s disappearance was “one of the most frustratingly inept investigations I’ve ever come across”.
She said Kate and Gerry will forever carry the guilt that they decided to leave their children unattended, rather than employ a babysitter.
“People have been so quick to judge them very harshly – but in reality they were only metres away at an open restaurant where they could see the apartment,” she reflects.
Even after 13 long years, the
Mccanns have never given up hope of being reunited with their Maddie. Each year, Kate, 52, buys birthday presents for Madeleine. “I’m still doing that … I couldn’t not, she’s still our daughter, she’ll always be our daughter,” she explains in a TV interview.
“There is still a possibility a young woman might one day walk into a police department and say she’s Madeleine Mccann,” Diane reflects. “She may have read the internet and realised, ‘This could be me.’ It has happened before, that children who have been kidnapped end up escaping from their captors.”
But she fears it’s likely that on that fateful night, Madeleine’s captors escaped by boat to nearby Morocco “perhaps to sell her to a child slave ring”.
She believes the enormous publicity generated by the Mccanns in the quest to help find Maddie may have even harmed her. “After all the global headlines, her kidnappers may well have decided, ‘We’ve got to get rid of this child, she’s a liability.’
“While the optimist in me wants to think Madeleine Mccann is alive, I have my doubts.”
“IT’S POSSIBLE A YOUNG WOMAN MIGHT WALK INTO A POLICE STATION AND SAY SHE’S MADDIE”