Hundreds gather at service to remember nurse Jacintha Saldanha
HUNDREDS of mourners joined the family of hoax phone call nurse Jacintha Saldanha at a memorial mass near her Bristol home tonight.
Moving tributes were paid by the 46-year-old's family in the service at St Teresa of the Child Jesus in Filton, with members of the congregation each lighting a candle in her memory.
About 200 people attended the service at the Roman Catholic church, which was described by priest Father Tom Finnegan as "a celebration of Jacintha's life".
Ms Saldanha, a married mother-of-two from nearby Southmead, was found dead in a block of nurses' flats in London last Friday, three days after she transferred a call from Australian radio presenters pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles to a colleague at King Edward VII Hospital, who then gave the pranksters an update on the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated there for severe morning sickness. An inquest on Thursday heard she had been found hanged.
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Mr Finnegan told the congregation: "We gather together as family, as friends, as parishioners, as colleagues and fellow students, to remember a loving mother, to remember a loving wife, to remember a loving neighbour, a dedicated and committed health worker, caring for the sick and helping those in any need to get better."
He said that Ms Saldanha had fulfilled the Christian vocation to serve, to love and to share.
Mr Finnegan read moving tributes from Ms Saldanha's children Lisha, 14, and Junal, 16, and from her husband, Benedict Barboza.
Her children thanked her for keeping the family together through difficulties, for ensuring they had a good education and for making them understand the difference between right and wrong.
They said: "We love you mum, sleep in peace and please watch over us until we meet again in heaven."
Mr Barboza's tribute spoke of the couple's 19 years together and the pain of his wife's loss.
He said: "You were the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward.
"I feel part of me has been ripped off.
"Without your beautiful smile and sparkling personality, the house is an empty place to live."
Family friend Stephen Almeida choked back tears as he thanked everyone who had offered the family support since the tragedy.
He said the thoughts, words and prayers of friends had meant a lot to the family and thanked Mr Finnegan and other clergy for their help.
Mr Almeida said: "Jacintha was a strong person, a caring mother, a loving wife, and very compassionate."
Another memorial service was due to be held tomorrow morning at Westminster Cathedral in London.