Hundreds gather for April Jones tribute service07/10/2012 - 11:34:05
Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects today 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 on Monday evening.
With crowds wearing pink ribbons symbolising the faith many still have that the girl 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 slowly to St Peter’s Church at the heart of the mid Wales market town.
Reverend Kathleen Rogers addressed the congregation, as she offered prayers for April's parents Coral, 40, and Paul, 44, who did not attend the ceremony.
She 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 this morning.
“I have brought a candle from that service so that they are here with us in spirit,” she said.
There was a moment of silence before those gathered sang the Welsh hymn 'Morning Has Broken'.
Reverend Rogers then read a touching poem on behalf of April’s mother called “Mum”.
Bishop of Bangor, Reverend Andy John, said the community had shown the world how much they cared.
He said: “We care for April and her family.
“We’re here to surround them with our love and our prayer and let them know that we are here for them.
“Coral and Paul are listening to this...our prayers for you and April will continue.”
Reverend John said the tight-knit community had “touched the heart of people around the world”.
He said emails had been received from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand – and a church in Texas had even made a donation.
Reverend John extended his thanks to those who had helped including the “extraordinary effort” of mountain rescue teams.
“I want to thank the police for their professional dedication and we’re glad that they’re here for us,” he added.
He said members of the media have also shown their “deeply caring” side and he thanked them for telling the story of the town.
“That story today is encapsulated in this service,” he said.
A young boy and girl carried a pink candle deemed “April’s candle” and the “Book of Hope” to the altar, which was then blessed by Reverend John.
The service ended with the hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful while a CD called 'Hope', which was compiled especially for April, was played as the congregation left the church.
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.
Speaking before today's ceremony, Reverend Rogers said: ``The realisation is coming on since yesterday when we heard murder - that has hit home.
“All we want really is to bring her home. April belongs to everyone now.
“There is one person here who has done an evil thing in our community but there are hundreds and thousands of people who are with us. Evil will never win over the good in people.”
She added: “We have had emails from around the world and we know that many people are with us in spirit.”
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