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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
'Milestone in shared journey of grief'
The Reverend Tim Alban Jones
Tim Alban Jones: "Holly is dancing in Heaven"
Excerpts of Reverend Tim Alban Jones's address at the remembrance service for Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman on 30 August 2002:


This is a service of celebration and remembrance for two bright and cheerful 10-year-old girls.

In this service there is of course room for the sadness that is appropriate and unavoidable as a result of the tragedy.

But there is also a place to remember with gratitude the joy that Jessica and Holly brought to those who knew them.


In the course of their short lives, Holly and Jessica achieved about the same as most 10-year-olds - perhaps just a little bit more.

But in their deaths they have certainly achieved more than any of us will manage in our lifetime.

In the course of the past few weeks we have witnessed the most extraordinary sights.


We have seen our town of Soham brought together and united in a common grief

We have seen thousands upon thousands of flowers, cards and soft toys being brought to St Andrew's Church in memory of Jessica and Holly.

We have seen strangers and friends weeping together in shared grief and anguish.

We have seen the dedication and diligence of hundreds of police officers.

We have seen our town of Soham brought together and united in a common grief.

And we have seen the extraordinary bravery, courage and dignity of two sets of parents.


They were brought up to know and treasure the value of love

All of this is a direct result of the way that Holly and Jessica have touched the hearts and lives of so many people.

It is surely fitting that we are gathered here to pay tribute to them and to rejoice with them as they now rejoice with us.

I am reminded of the comment from one of Holly's fellow majorettes that Holly is still dancing but now she is dancing in Heaven.


Holly and Jessica were both loving children.

Their head teacher described them both as being happy, generous and giving girls.


Those who loved them most of course feel the loss most deeply

They had been friends since they were very small children and had grown up together as members of two loving families.

They were brought up to know and treasure the value of love.

In their lives and in their tragic deaths they showed the power and strength of love.


The memories will remain of Jessica's enthusiasm for everything, the way she wanted to be in there doing it all and her lovely smile and cheeky nature or how Holly was the "perfect daughter" with her love of dancing and football and the way she enjoyed helping other children with her winning smile.

Their pictures will always be with us.

Those who loved them most of course feel the loss most deeply.


For the families of Holly and Jessica there are the funerals to arrange at some future date.

Whatever else people might say about the deaths of Jessica and Holly, ultimately this tragedy is about two families each losing a beloved daughter.

The very real public grief and anguish that we have seen cannot be compared to that of Nicola and Kevin, Sharon and Les and their families.


We know that life will probably not be normal for some time to come

May I plead that their needs and wishes should be respected at this, the hardest of times - the funerals of private services from which the public and the media should stay away.

And after the funerals are over these lovely, caring families will have the painful and difficult task of adjusting to their loss.


Today's [Friday's] service is a small milestone in our shared journey of grief and sorrow.

It is our hope that in this service we might perhaps draw a line under one phase of our grieving and begin to look forward.

The start of the new school term is rapidly approaching.

And there is a very strong sense in our community that we need to try and get back to some semblance of normality.

We know that life will probably not be normal for some time to come.

But we can at least take the first steps in that direction.


Let our lives be ruled by love and goodness, not hate and the deeds of darkness

The removal of the many flowers from the churchyard will be another visible sign of moving forward.

And that brings us to consider our thoughts for the future.

There has already been much speculation about what sort of permanent memorial might be created for Holly and Jessica.

I have heard suggestions of a stained glass window or a sculpture or a garden of remembrance.

In my opinion it is too soon to say.

I think that we need to be rather further removed from the terrible and recent events before we can properly decide about a last tribute.

Decisions of this nature can be made in the future - and not necessarily the near future.


Would not the best and most lasting memorial to these two lovely girls be a change for the better in how we behave to each other?


They are going to remain in the hearts of very many people for a very long while

Jessica and Holly were two trusting and loving girls.

And the way they lived is surely the right pattern for us.


Let our lives be ruled by love and goodness, not hate and the deeds of darkness.


Holly and Jessica have become a part of the lives of a great number of people in the past few weeks - a far greater number than were ever lucky enough to know them during the course of their lives.

They are going to remain in the hearts of very many people for a very long while.

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Rev. Tim Alban Jones
"We have seen our town of Soham brought together and united"

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30 Aug 02 | England
30 Aug 02 | England
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