The parents of murdered schoolgirl April Jones spoke of their relief today (TUES) as her headstone was erected – more than two years after her death.
The black granite stone is partly shaped like a teddy bear. It also features two Welsh verses , one about a butterfly and the other about a shooting star.
Mum Coral, 42, said: “It’s April down to a tee. She loved her teddies and was fascinated by butterflies and shooting stars.
“We’ve been waiting two years for this day. It’s lovely that the headstone will be in place for Christmas and we plan to visit her on Christmas Day.”
Dad Paul, 46, added: “It’s horrible seeing our daughter’s name on a cold stone in a graveyard but this is really lovely tribute to her.”
April was just five when she vanished from the close-knit Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, on October 1st, 2012, while playing on her bike.
She was abducted by paedophile Mark Bridger who was found guilty of her murder after a month-long trial in May 2013.
April’s body was never fully recovered despite the biggest search in UK police history but Bridger was handed a rare whole life jail term after fragments of her skull were found in his fireplace.
The family held a funeral in September last year after her scant remains were released to them. She is buried in a graveyard just yards from where she was last seen alive.
Coral and Paul made an emotional visit to the cemetery yesterday, accompanied by one of their daughter’s favourite teddies.
Paul said: “All of April’s teddies were precious to her but this one is particularly special.
“It’s a little dog which she loved. She was obsessed with Hello Kitty and, just before she was taken, she put a Hello Kitty plaster on his paw.
“We thought it was a nice touch to bring him here today.”
Coral added: “Even though we had the funeral last year, we had to wait for the ground around April’s grave to settle before we could put the headstone up.
“It’s a massive relief now it’s finally here as before we just had a little tag with her name on it. It’s much more personal.”
The couple and their older children, Jazmin, 19, and Harley, 12, spent hours deciding on the design of the stone. It was manufactured by James Memorials, based in nearby Aberystwyth.
The move comes just weeks after the house in which April is believed to have died was demolished. The Welsh government bought the cottage in remote Ceinws from its previous owner in order to raze it to the ground.
Coral said: “We wanted it to be perfect so we chose everything as a family. April was very proud to be Welsh and she went to a Welsh speaking school so it’s nice to have the Welsh words. They’re beautiful.”
Paul added: “We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past two years. We’ve had so many people fighting for us.
“If it wasn’t for the police, the search teams and the lawyers who worked on the case we might not have been able to bury April at all.”
More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or firstname.lastname@example.org.