The devastated mother of April Jones sobbed with grief as she finally laid her murdered daughter to rest yesterday.
One year on, April is laid to rest as ‘grief goes hand in hand with love’
The closely-knit market town of Machynlleth in mid-Wales came to a standstill as the youngster’s small coffin made its final journey from her home to a packed church.
Almost a year on from April’s killing by paedophile Mark Bridger, her family and an entire community were united in grief. Her parents were joined by at least 200 people as their daughter’s funeral procession left the Bryn-y-Gog estate.
Mother Coral, 41, sobbed audibly as she made her way to sit at the front of the service, while 44-year-old husband Paul walked by her side, acknowledging pats of compassion.
As mourners held each other for support, the Rev Kathleen Rogers said: “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.”
It is almost a year since April was snatched as she played just a few yards from her terraced home – which she also shared with 10-year-old brother Harley and older sister Jazmin, 17.
Earlier that evening, the youngster had been allowed to stay out a little later than usual following a glowing report from teachers at her primary school.
It was then that the father-of-six Bridger lured April, who was friends with one of his daughters, into his Land Rover before speeding off. He fled back to his remote cottage in Ceinws, where it is thought April suffered a violent death.
Despite a mountain of evidence stacking up against the former abattoir worker, including fragments of a child’s skull in his fireplace, Bridger claimed he could not remember what he had done with April. Following a month-long trial at Mold Crown Court, a jury rejected Bridger’s lies and a judge sentenced him to a whole-life tariff.
However, the ordeal of April’s family was far from over.
Without her body, they had to wait months before a coroner could release what little remained of the schoolgirl.
Finally, five days short of the first anniversary of her death, her loved ones could at last say their goodbyes.
The funeral cortege began its journey from April’s home. As neighbours and relatives – all dressed in April’s favourite colour of pink – tried to hold back tears. Shops and pubs were emptied as their customers lined the streets and bowed their heads.
The coffin arrived at St Peter’s to Emeli Sande’s Read All About It played on loudspeakers outside the church.
A poignant montage of images of the five-year-old played on a large screen.
The service, where pink floral arrangements had been brought by mourners, saw prayers, psalms, readings and hymns.
Ms Rogers told the congregation: “It’s a bittersweet moment. Our hopes and dreams have changed because April has been taken from us.
“But you know, we come also with a sense of thanksgiving for the many ways that April touched our lives and those with whom she came into contact.
“Today, here in this place, she is linking us all together in grief. Yet, grief goes hand in hand with love.
“In whatever way we express our grief, it shows our love for April. And surely that is the most important thing for any human being of whatever age, simply to be loved.”