Machynlleth mourns for April Jones, its little girl lost
HUNDREDS of people turned out to pay their respects yesterday as an emotional service took place for missing five-year-old April Jones.
A procession of more than 700 people walked slowly through the Welsh town of Machynlleth, as normal life came to a standstill.
Hundreds gathered at the Bryn-y-Gog estate from where April was abducted last Monday evening.
With crowds wearing pink ribbons symbolising the faith many still have that the child remains alive, the procession moved in subdued silence through the town.
Roads along the route were closed off as the sombre gathering inched its way to St Peter’s Church, at the heart of the mid-Wales market town.
The schoolgirl’s abduction has shaken the small community to the core.
The service was seen as the start of a process aimed at healing the community.
Speaking before the service, the Rev Kathleen Rogers said: “The realisation is coming on since yesterday, when we heard [the word] ‘murder’ – that has hit home.”
Inside the church, Ms Rogers addressed the congregation, offering prayers for April’s parents Coral, 40, and Paul, 44, who did not attend the ceremony.
The minister said: “We cannot bring little April, our sweet and innocent little girl, home as we had hoped.
“But our hope has now been moved on to sure and certain hope that she is in the arms of Jesus.
“Coral and Paul may not be with us this morning, but we hold them very close in our hearts as we pray for them.
“There are hundreds of people today searching our town, our countryside, our river. Many hundreds more have been searching this last week.
“We thank them and we pray for them as they came to us in our hour of need and they continue to be with us.”
Reverend Rogers said that a service had also been held for the search workers at the local leisure centre yesterday morning.
The Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Rev Andy John, said the tight-knit community had “touched the heart of people around the world”.
He said e-mails had been received from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand – and a church in Texas had even made a donation.
Bishop John extended his thanks to those who had helped including the “extraordinary effort” of the mountain rescue teams.
April, who has cerebral palsy, was playing out late on her bicycle as a treat for a glowing school report when she disappeared last Monday evening.
Former lifeguard Mark Bridger, 46, was charged yesterday with the abduction and murder of April.
Local man Bridger is also accused of perverting the course of justice and will appear before Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.
The five-year-old remains missing despite an intensive ongoing search. Exhaustive efforts to find any sign of April continue unabated.
Superintendent Ian John said yesterday that, following the murder and abduction charge, the nature of the operation will change.
He said: “It’s fair to say that we’ll see a scaling back of the mountain rescue effort, but a doubling of the effort, really, within the police element. We’ve got ten teams here today.
“If we don’t find April today, we’ve got 18 teams coming tomorrow and we will continue that search with the same momentum and the same element of rigour that we’ve had since day one.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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