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Family of April Jones bid an emotional farewell

April Jones' coffin is carried in a horse-drawn hearse through the streets of Machynlleth. Photo: PA Wire

The family of April Jones bid an emotional farewell to the five-year-old today, almost a year since the first anniversary of her murder.

Locals in her hometown of Machynlleth in Wales gathered to share in their grief, with mourners coming to a standstill or following behind the little white coffin as it was carried through the streets in a horse-drawn hearse.

The family of April Jones bid an emotional farewell to the five-year-old, almost a year after she was killed. Credit: Dyfed-Powys Police/PA Wire

The rural town was adorned with the five-year-old's favourite colour, with pink ribbons hung from railings, shop windows and lampposts.

They were adopted as a symbol of hope that April would return home safe, but now serve as a sign of support to her family and a sign that people have not forgotten her.

ITV News' Dan Rivers reports.

The cortege began its journey from April's home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate, from where she was snatched by murderer Mark Bridger, and made the one mile journey to St Peter's Church.

April Jones' paretns, Paul and Coral, and her brother Harley arrive at St Peter's Church. Credit: PA Wire

April's mother, Coral, sobbed audibly in grief as she walked slowly into the funeral service, preceded by her daughter's coffin.

She was accompanied to the front of the church by April's father, Paul, and siblings Jazmin and Harley.

Coral Jones sobbed audibly in grief as she walked slowly into the funeral service.

As they arrived, a poignant montage of images of April played on a 50inch flat screen TV taken from the family's own album of photographs.

The images, put together as part of a GCSE school project by Jazmin, played to the strains of Read All About It by Emeli Sande and Professor Green.

April Jones' coffin is laid down in St Peter's Church, Machynlleth, for the funeral service. Credit: PA Wire

The Reverend Kathleen Rogers opened the emotional service with a moving tribute to April.

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."

We have come together to remember April in the presence of God. We have come to celebrate her short life and grieve together, to say goodbye.

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.

For a five-year-old she touched a great many lives ... for Paul, Coral, Jazmin and Harley, April was and is extra special.

But she touched us all and we think and feel differently because of the difference she made to us.

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.

The service included Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd, and hymns including Memories Sad And Beautiful, and a Welsh hymn.

April's favourite colour pink was widely worn by the hundreds of mourners both in and outside the church. Credit: PA Wire

A poignant poem inspired by the devastating abduction of April was read out by Sian Calban, a teacher at the primary school she attended.

Written by local man Jim Marshall and called simply April, it began:

On this beautiful sunlit autumn day, A desperate sadness casts long shadows, across our anxious and questioning world.

Time and mischance have conspired, To inflict the cruellest of evil fates, on an innocent and trusting infant.

A second poem, by the same author, and called An Autumn Night, was read out by church warden Joyce Price.

A smiling and carefree April Jones was pictured on the front of the order of service. Credit: PA Wire

No family member spoke during the service, which was organised only after the conclusion of an inquest, 10 days after which April's remains were released.

But a short message from the family printed on the back of the order of service said:

Paul, Coral, Jazmin and Harley would like to say a big thank you to everyone for their overwhelming kindness, sympathy and support during this sad, sad time.

The brief message was flanked by a drawing of three sunflowers held together by a bright pink bow.

Pink was widely worn by the hundreds of mourners both in and outside the church.

Floral tributes were placed at the entrance of the church by well-wishers, carrying heartfelt messages of sympathy for April and her family.

After the service, the funeral party left the church for a private burial.

A floral tribute in memory of April Jones outside St Peter's Church, Machynlleth. Credit: PA Wire

Ms Rogers reminded mourners at the service that donations were being accepted to sponsor an African child.

April's family announced yesterday that money raised at the service and beyond would be used to pay for a five-year-old Ugandan schoolgirl's education.