THERE were tears, joy and laughter as family and friends gathered to say farewell to a young mother and her newborn daughter yesterday.
Charlotte Bevan, 30, walked out of a maternity hospital in Bristol with four-day-old Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck on 2 December. Search teams found their bodies in the Avon Gorge in the following days.
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Around 300 people – who had been asked to wear bright clothes – yesterday filled Christ Church in Clifton to celebrate their lives.
A single coffin had earlier been carried into the church and the hour-long service, led by Rev Paul Langham, was relayed to people outside.
Pascal Malbrouck paid tribute to his partner and their baby.
“Charlotte … was my joy, my hope, my strength, my mentor and every minute I spent with her she taught me something,” he said. “She taught me to love often, to be patient with love, to appreciate beauty and to find the best in others, never give up and try again, to give oneself to the world and make it a little better for everybody else.
“I think all this is a trial and trial gives strength, sorrow and understanding and wisdom.”
Fighting back tears, he added: “I miss her so much. She filled me with hope. I hope to see you again, lovely, and I wish and I want to enjoy your journey with you again.”
Mr Malbrouck told mourners the name Zaani Tiana meant “the one we look upon with love”.
“I think this name was well chosen because I hope everybody here today will look upon her with love,” he said. “Her life has been short, very short, but I can tell you every single minute of it … she was a happy baby.
“Four days may not seem much but to me it was an eternity and those memories will stay with me forever.”
Ms Bevan’s mother, Rachel Fortune, also told the congregation that since the tragedy her family has been “enveloped in a shield of love so strong that words cannot describe it”.
She said: “This shield has helped us through this very difficult time. It is a shield of love and compassion.
“Today is one of thanksgiving for Charlotte and Zaani’s lives. All other matters are for another time.”
Ms Fortune brought laughter to the service when she recalled her granddaughter smiling.
“I am like any grandmother when I tell you how beautiful my granddaughter was, how she smiled at me… and it wasn’t wind. She looked at me when I spoke to her,” she said.
She described her daughter as a “free spirit” and added: “You all knew her. A beautiful free spirit, strong-willed, full of love and energy. She had an openness that took your breath away.”
Mourners sang the hymns Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, He’s Got the Whole Wide World in His Hands, There is a Green Hill Far Away and, finally, Jerusalem. A private cremation was to take place later.
A massive police operation was launched when Ms Bevan left St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol with her daughter. CCTV footage showed her leaving without a coat, wearing hospital slippers and carrying her daughter in a blanket.
An inquest at Avon Coroner’s Court this week heard they were found in a gully having “apparently fallen”. The hearing was adjourned until next year.
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