Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Holly and Jessica remembered

by Valerie Sprague
BBC News Online

One heartbreaking aspect of the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman was that parents everywhere could imagine that these could have been their children.

Jessica and Holly
Jessica Chapman (l) and Holly Wells were the best of friends
The two photogenic 10-year-olds were the very model of typical children growing up in a "safe", quiet, English town.

The girls had been playing together at Holly's home in Red House Gardens, Soham, on 4 August 2002.

Jessica had gone over to give her best friend a necklace she had bought on holiday in Menorca.

The pair enjoyed a barbeque and posed for a photo in Manchester United shirts but when Holly's parents went to check on them later that evening they had vanished.

At the time, their parents stressed the girls had known not to speak to strangers and were not allowed to venture out alone, except to each other's houses - just a few minutes away on foot.

Holly and Jessica were described as "happy, generous and giving" by Geoff Fisher, their head teacher at St Andrew's School.

Holly Wells
'Bubbly' Holly Wells was a majorette
Jessica Aimee Chapman, tanned with straight dark hair, has been depicted as a bit of a tomboy, with a lovely smile and a "cheeky", inquisitive nature.

She enjoyed swimming and played football for the Soham Town Rangers, a club for under-11s.

Like her best friend, she was a Manchester United fan and idolised David Beckham.

Bubbly and outgoing Holly Marie Wells performed with the Fenland Majorettes and enjoyed singing and dancing. She also played the cornet.

In a tribute, Mr Fisher said Holly was an embodiment of the "perfect daughter", who enjoyed helping other children.

Candles lit for Jessica and Holly in Soham
Thousands of mourners prayed for the girls at St Andrew's Church
The girls' bodies were found on 17 August, two weeks after they disappeared, near to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Their deaths had an impact far beyond the small community of Soham.

An online guestbook, tribute books at St Andrew's Church, and thousands of floral tributes left in the town and near the spot where the girls' bodies were found, marked their passing.

Australian prime minister John Howard was among those who sent floral tributes to the families.

A group of boys unable to afford a bouquet left their cherished football, which had been covered in messages of condolence.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in their Man United kit
The girls were last seen wearing their Manchester United kit
On the Saturday after the bodies were found, football, rugby and cricket grounds around the UK held a minute's silence.

Footballer David Beckham, whom the girls idolised, dedicated a match goal to their memory and sent flowers to their private funerals.

The two youngsters were wearing Manchester United shirts bearing Beckham's name and number when they went missing.

Jessica and Holly were also mourned at a service of remembrance at Ely Cathedral.

At this year's Chelsea Flower Show, Harkness Roses of Hitchin in Hertfordshire unveiled the "Soham Rose" in honour of the girls.

And a delicate stained-glass window has been dedicated to their memory at their former primary school.

Rose grown for Soham girls
17 Apr 03 |  Cambridgeshire
Beckham tribute to murdered girls
23 Aug 02 |  Eng Prem

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