THE family of a 16-year-old girl fatally stabbed in a bus said they had been overwhelmed by the support of well-wishers at her funeral yesterday.
Christina Edkins died from a stab wound to the chest on a bus taking her to school in Birmingham on 7 March.
Speaking before the service on behalf of Christina’s family, her cousin Stephen Newby said: “We are devastated she should have been taken away so senselessly and continue to try to come to terms with what has happened.
“We have been overwhelmed and comforted by the spontaneous reactions of so many people. While many of them never knew Christina, all have been touched in some way by this tragic event and share in our grief.”
Stephen added: “We hope that justice will be done and that Christina can be allowed to rest peacefully.”
Phillip Simelane, 22, of Walsall, has been charged with murder and remains in custody to appear at Birmingham Crown Court for a plea hearing on 31 May.
Christina’s silver coffin was taken to St Philip’s cathedral in Birmingham in a white carriage, pulled by a pair of white horses. Parents Jason and Kathleen led her family into the 300-year-old Anglican church which was packed with those wanting to pay their respects.
Despite the icy chill about 300 mourners stood outside to pay their respects, while inside the service was attended by 600 family and friends.
Among them were 120 pupils from Leasowes High School, which Christina attended in Halesowen, and colleagues from the Tesco supermarket where she worked part-time.
School principal Neil Shaw called Christina “an inspiration”.
He said she was “charming, fun-loving, hard-working and caring” and had aspired to be a nurse. “If schools could choose their students, they would be full of pupils like Christina,” he added.
Keith Rammell, Christina’s godfather, also paid tribute and said his only wish was to have seen her grow up into “that most wonderful, caring young lady”.
Instead he said her death left “an empty space” in the hearts of those who loved her, adding she would “never be replaced”.
To his goddaughter, “our Christina”, he said: “Sleep tight.”
The Rev Ian Harper, vicar at Christina’s local church, St John’s and St Peter’s in Ladywood, praised her family for their strength in the face of an “act of violence which seeks to plunge us into darkness”.
As the main part of the service drew to a close, he said: “Christina’s spirit lives on.”
The coffin was carried out to the strains of Celine Dion’s Because You Love Me.