Final farewell to 5-year-old meningitis victim Kelsey Smart
SCORES of family and friends turned out to say farewell to Kelsey Smart, who died from meningitis at the age of five.
Many of the mourners at the funeral service at St Stephen's Church in Soundwell yesterday wore pink, one of Kelsey's favourite colours.
Pink helium balloons adorned the aisle as the small white coffin was brought into the packed church to the sound of her favourite song, Baby Baby by Justin Bieber.
Topped by a photograph of the smiling little girl, it was placed beneath an arch of pink and white balloons, alongside floral tributes.
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The service was led by vicar the Rev Ian Wills, who said it was a time to recall happy memories of Kelsey, to celebrate her short life and to love and pray for her parents Jamie and Hannah and all her family and friends in their loss and sorrow.
The congregation sang the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful before Lizzy Meadows, associate head teacher of The Park Primary School in Kingswood, spoke about how Kelsey had been a popular and caring pupil who was doing well at school.
She read from Kelsey's report at the end of her reception year: "Kelsey can be very kind to others and will always offer to help someone if they are hurt or upset.
"She is a chatty, friendly little girl who always has a smile to share."
Mrs Meadows said Kelsey's friends in her Year 1 class had been talking about her a lot in the two weeks since her death on February 28 and had shared their memories.
"Every child can remember a game she played with them," she said.
Kelsey loved her mum and dad, her little brother Jayden and her friends, mourners were told. She also loved pink, purple, Barbies, teddies and Justin Bieber, and "everybody in the class knew about her kitten, Tigger".
Mrs Meadows read out some of the messages children had written. She said class 1B had told her that Kelsey was special and would stay with them in their heads and in their hearts, and they wanted to keep her photograph on their classroom door.
Kelsey's father Jamie said: "From the moment I cut my baby's cord, I knew I would love her for ever. She filled our hearts with so much happiness."
With Hannah at his side, he said he knew their daughter would be looking down and would be so excited to be at the centre of so much fuss. She was their princess, "beautiful, loving, caring – and a little bit annoying at times!"
"In the precious years she was here, she touched so many people's lives," he said. "She loved everyone and hated no one, something all of us should take away with us today."
The service also included the children's carol Away in a Manger, the hymn Make Me a Channel of Your Peace, and the song Child, by Mark Owen.
It was followed by a cremation at Westerleigh. A collection was made on behalf of the charity Meningitis UK, which has been supporting the family.
Kelsey's parents have pledged to raise money for Meningitis UK, a national charity based in their home area of Kingswood, which campaigns for research to find vaccines to prevent all forms of the disease.
The couple want to raise awareness about the symptoms of meningitis. Kelsey became ill on Saturday February 25 but the out-of-hours GP and the family surgery both sent her home. When she eventually got to Bristol Children's Hospital, she was found to have Group B meningo- coccal meningitis, a bacterial strain of the disease.
Her family made the brave decision to donate her organs, so that up to six other children could be helped.
The classic signs of meningitis are a headache, stiff neck and dislike of bright lights.
Other symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, confusion and drowsiness.
Symptoms typical of septicaemia which can also occur are cold hands and feet, leg pain and abnormal skin colour.
The charity is offering free fridge magnets which, for the first time, separate the disease's specific and general symptoms.
Further information is available by calling 0117 947 6320 and at www.meningitis.org.