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EDITIONS
Friday, 30 August, 2002, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Quiet reflection at Ely
Kevin Wells, father of Holly, arriving at Ely Cathedral
People came to support the families

Some wore dark suits, some bright summer dresses, while others were dressed casually in jeans.

Babies in prams, young children, mothers and fathers and pensioners all filed into Ely cathedral in a seemingly never-ending show of support for the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

They had all come to celebrate the lives of the 10-year-olds and despite their sadness, they were determined to do so.


Soham is a very close-knit place. It's been very, very sad but the community has pulled together

Lewis Heavens
From the moment they arrived in their coaches and cars at the cathedral car park they braced themselves for what would be an emotional event.

The bells from a nearby church rang out as they made their way into the cathedral, watched from behind a steel fence by a bank of television and press cameras.

Some sat outside for a while chatting quietly before entering the cathedral to be met by wardens.

Among those standing at the gates was president of Soham Rotary Club, Lewis Heavens.

He was there to hand out tickets to the 27 members of his club and members of other groups from the surrounding region.

Two friends hug at the cathedral service
The ceremony was an emotional one
They have spent the past two weeks co-ordinating the flow of tributes arriving at St Andrew's churchyard in Soham.

"We've also done a bit of counselling to look after people who've been coming in droves, grief stricken," Mr Heavens said.

"Soham is a very close-knit place. It's been very, very sad but the community has pulled together.

"Today is about celebrating the lives of those two little girls - that's very important. It's also about their parents.

"The people of Soham are looking to pull the community together to make sure life does go on."

Heather and Keith Brasher, who run a pine and giftware shop Jus' Perfick in Soham high street, know Holly's father, Kevin, well, as he used to be their window cleaner.


We feel very proud to be here to celebrate the joyous moments of those two girls' lives

Heather Brasher
They said it was "an honour and a privilege" to attend the service.

Holly and Jessica would often stop and go into their shop to browse through the jewellery and other items on sale.

"They used to come in on and off, they were no different from any other girls," said Mr Brasher.

"If children get killed in a car accident it's difficult to accept, and this is so much harder still."

Mrs Brasher said: "We feel very proud to be here to celebrate the joyous moments of those two girls' lives.

"We've come to remember Holly and Jessica and it's a chance for the young people of Soham to do the same."

The public had been advised to stay away from the service, and most of them did.

Order of Service
The Order of Service
But some people gathered outside felt they just had to be there to pay tribute to the little girls, whom most had never met.

Small groups sat on walls in the area, others walking past paused for a moment of reflection as they saw the congregation enter the cathedral.

After paying their respects in their own ways, many drifted off.

Just a few groups of people - including teenagers and pensioners - remained for the duration, chatting quietly and looking at small clusters of police stationed in various parts of the cathedral precinct.

There was a sudden flurry of activity when an Italian television station using the same frequency as that used to relay the service within the cathedral drowned out part of a poem dedicated to Jessica.

When police inside the cathedral realised what was happening, they dashed out to tell the crew to turn their equipment off.

But for the most part the mood was peaceful and reflective as the late afternoon sun bathed the cathedral in a golden glow.


It was a beautiful service, very moving

Kate Kent
Nicholas Peck, 36, and his youngest daughter Victoria, 11, travelled by train from Cambridge to be outside the cathedral.

A tearful Mr Peck said: "What's happened has affected us very deeply. Victoria wanted to come here today.

"We're glad to be here - it's great to see so many people going to the service."

Victoria said: "What's happened frightened me to go out.

"I start secondary school next Friday and me and my friends are going to be very careful. We're going to all meet up together to walk home."

As the congregation filed out after the service some were in tears, while others comforted their friends and relatives.

But as they left to make the journey home, all were full of praise for the service which they said had been a comfort to them.

"It was a beautiful service, very moving," said Kate Kent, a community contact officer from Ely police station.

'Through a lot'

"I didn't know the girls personally, although I was involved in the case. It was clear how much joy they brought to people who did."

Kathleen Day, 73, of Soham Methodist church, has known several generations of the Wells family.

She said: "It really was a wonderful service. The people of Soham are very tough - we've been through a lot.

"Hopefully this will help us start afresh tomorrow and go forward."

Nine-year-old Charlene Moden, who was in Soham Fenlander majorettes with Holly, said: "The service helped me remember Holly and will make me feel better when I go back to school."


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30 Aug 02 | England
30 Aug 02 | England
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