Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Service held for missing girl April

A Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth offers prayers for April Jones
Police outside the home of Mark Bridger as the hunt for missing April Jones continues around the Machynlleth area in mid Wales
Five-year-old April Jones went missing in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on Monday evening

Hundreds of people have turned out to pay their respects 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.

The schoolgirl's abduction has shaken the small mid Wales community to the core. The service today is seen as the start of a process aimed at healing the community.

Speaking before Sunday's ceremony, Reverend Kathleen Rogers said: "The realisation is coming on since yesterday when we heard murder - that has hit home."

Inside the church, Reverend 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."

April, who has cerebral palsy, was playing out late on her bicycle as a treat for a glowing school report when she disappeared on Monday evening. Former lifeguard Mark Bridger, 46, has been charged with the abduction and murder of April. He is also accused of perverting the course of justice and will face Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court on Monday.

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