Tragic April finds peace

World 5THE family of murdered schoolgirl April Jones said a final farewell yesterday (Thursday) at her funeral, even though her body was never found.

The mid-Wales town of Machynlleth, which shared their heart-wrenching grief, came to a standstill as a white horse-drawn hearse led mourners. And many wore April’s favourite pink colour in her memory.

Among the mourners were the five-year-old’s parents, Paul and Coral, and their two children.

Crowds lined the streets and filled St Peter’s Church – and its graveyard – for the long-awaited service.

The coffin arrived at the church to the sound of Emeli Sande’s Read All About, relayed on loudspeakers outside.

And as family members carried it inside, Coral wept, holding her hand to her face. She was comforted by Paul, while other relatives fought back tears.

A message from April’s family, written on the Order of Service, said: “We would like to say a big thank-you to everyone for their overwhelming kindness, sympathy and support during this sad, sad time.”

Among the crowds were members of the mountain rescue team  who helped search for April.

The Reverend Kathleen Rogers opened the service by saying: “We know that there are no words we can say at this moment to express what we are feeling. No words can alleviate our sorrow, or take away our pain.””

Two poems by a local writer – one called April and the other called An Autumn Night – were read during the service, and the words of well-known hymns were changed to suit the family.

No relatives spoke at the packed service, which was organised only after the conclusion of an inquest, 10 days after which April’s remains – fragments of bone only – were released.

The funeral party left the church for a private burial following the moving service

It is almost a year to the day since April went missing, and her murderer, Mark Bridger, was jailed for his entire life in May. but reminders of the youngster are visible throughout the town.

A memorial garden has been built on the estate of Bryn y Gog, close to the home where she lived for her brief life.

Earlier April’s father inspected flowers and dolls left at the garden, which has become a focal point for locals.

A bench bearing her name has been placed among the trees and next to a pink playhouse.

And up in the Welsh hills overlooking her hometown, a tree has been intricately wrapped in knitted pink patches, while below in the valley, pink ribbons still adorn many of the shop-fronts and houses.

But the town is different now, according to Councillor Mike Williams, a friend and neighbour of April’s family.

“It’s the magnitude of an event in which a five-year-old girl was ripped from her family, ripped from the community, in such a vile and vicious way,” he said.

“But the town has stayed together, and together we will be. We will be as one and we will be always with the family in support.”

April’s funeral reflected the wishes of her grieving parents, who had wondered for months whether it would even be possible because their daughter’s body was never , apart from those bone fragments.

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