Heartfelt tributes were paid to a missing Blackpool teenager at a special memorial service, 10 years on from when she first disappeared.
A day after police renewed their appeal for information regarding the disappearance of Charlene Downes, more than 100 friends and family packed into St John’s Church in Cedar Square, Blackpool, to pay their respects to the 14-year-old.
The moving service, led by Rev Robert West, included tributes by Charlene’s dad, Robert Downes Jnr, and her sister, Rebecca Downes.
Wiping away tears, Mr Downes Jnr said: “As you know, it’s raining outside – that is Charlene crying.
“I do not think Charlene has gone away, but that she has gone to a better place – her journey has only just begun.
“She is lost, but not in our hearts. Charlene was taken away from us – we know that.
“If Charlene was here today she would say stop crying, keep laughing.”
Her sister Rebecca added: “A beloved sister and daughter and friend, we will never forget the day she went away.
“I know she will always be looking down on me.”
On Thursday, police renewed their appeal for information regarding Charlene’s disappearance.
Police suspect she has been murdered, but those responsible have never been brought to justice. Following poems by Sue Ward and Marie McCourt, Sarah Eccles sang You Are Not Alone by singer Michael Jackson.Rev West then paid his own tribute to Charlene, in doing so criticising efforts to find the missing teenager.
He added: “I would like to say a few words about Charlene. I never had the pleasure of meeting Charlene, but have had the pleasure of meeting lots and lots of children of Charlene’s age.
“Many are immature, inexperienced and naive as they move into adult life.
“But nobody should go through the hurt and anger and shock Charlene’s family have had to undergo from the authorities in this town.”
After the celebration, 10 white doves were released in St John’s Square.