Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 13:50 UK

Funeral for strangled Manchester schoolgirl Tia Rigg

Tia Rigg's coffin being brought into church
Hundreds of mourners gathered at St James' Church in Cheetham Hill

The family of murdered 12-year-old schoolgirl Tia Rigg gathered at a church in Manchester for her funeral.

Tia was found strangled and stabbed at her uncle John Maden's house in Dalmain Close, Cheetham Hill, on 3 April. He has since been charged with her murder.

Many of the hundreds of mourners at Monday's service wore pink, Tia's favourite colour, in honour of her "bubbly personality".

Her mother, Lynne Rigg, sobbed as the pink coffin was brought into church.

It had arrived at St James' Church in Cheetham Hill by horse-drawn carriage, the coffin enclosed in glass, pulled by two horses wearing plumes of pink feathers.

Reverend Simon Cook paid tribute to the schoolgirl, saying her "young life ended too soon".

The pain of losing Tia is "very raw and very real", he added.

"Above all else, Tia's heart was for her family - especially her brothers and sisters, who she loved to look after, but also her cousins, her aunts, her uncles and grandparents.

Tia Rigg
Tia Rigg was found by police in a house in Dalmain Close

"She was full of energy, full of life. She was a happy girl, strong-willed and free spirited, and a bubbly personality."

'Cheeky smile'

The funeral was followed by a private family burial at Southern Cemetery in Chorlton.

Flowers spelling out her name, the word "sister", and her nickname Teapot, which another uncle called her from the age of three, were taken to the grave.

Twelve pink balloons were released at her graveside to mark each year of her life.

Before the funeral, Tia's family paid tribute to her.

Ms Rigg said: "She was my baby, she was my best friend and she was everything to me. She loved spending time with her brothers and sisters."

Tia's aunt, Susan Maden, added: "She was our beautiful princess. Such a bright, bubbly, very thoughtful girl who was kind and helpful. We will always remember her cheeky smile."

John Maden, 37, is in custody and due to go on trial later this year.

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