Search for April Jones: 'It is a community changed forever'

A pink ribbon
Pink ribbons become a symbol of hope in Machynlleth - this one is outside April's home Photo: ITV News Wales

Dafydd Jones is a journalist at ITV Wales, who worked as a field producer in Machynlleth during the first week of our coverage of the search for April Jones.

I first saw the news of April's disappearance on Twitter about an hour after she went missing. The tweet was sent by someone in the community and news very quickly began to spread and gather pace.

I went into the newsroom and we began to learn more detail about the circumstances in which April went missing. Very quickly, our reporter went to the leisure centre where hundreds of people had started to gather to join in the search.

The next morning, we drove to Machynlleth and went straight to the leisure centre. It was a very humbling place to be. The world's media crews had descended on this small community as they searched every hour of every day.

They really were tireless in their efforts, buoyed by the hope that April will be found alive and well. The weather conditions were bad, and the rescuers were surviving on little to no sleep. That didn't matter to any of them; they just wanted to find April.

People in Machynlleth
The community rallied around to support April's family - this was a procession the Sunday after she went missing Credit: Peter Byrne / PA Wire / Press Association Images

Over the course of the week I spent there, I was overwhelmed by the courage and determination of the community and how they had really pulled together in the face of adversity. They never gave up hope. Even when police finally said they were now searching for a body, the pink ribbons kept their strength. It was April's favourite colour and the ribbons were spread throughout the town to signify that hope was alive.

When I left the town the following Monday, I was struck by something I saw. That night, pink lanterns were being set off across the town. As I got in my car, I saw a mother with her daughter in their front garden. They were lighting a lantern, the mother hugged her daughter tightly and said 'this is for April'.

What happened in Machynlleth that week will stay with those who live there forever - it is a community changed forever.

April Jones
April was wearing this purple coat when she went missing on Monday 1 October Credit: Family photograph / Dyfed-Powys Police