The family of murdered Blackpool schoolgirl Paige Chivers today told of their relief at having the chance to say goodbye after years of agony.
Speaking after a memorial service for Paige, who was 15 when she went missing in 2007, her relatives said they can “finally move on”.
The family spent years not knowing whether the former Montgomery High School pupil was dead or alive.
But following the trial of Paige’s killer earlier this year, who was jailed for life despite the fact police never found her body, they have closure at last.
Paige’s cousin, Simone Wilkinson, speaking on behalf of the family, told The Gazette: “It just feels like we have finally said goodbye to her.
“It is closure for the family, having a service for her. It was weird with there being no body but it has drawn a line under everything.
It is closure for the family, having a service for her
“We have come to terms with fact she is not going to come back. It is like we can finally move on.”
Following a service at All Hallow’s Church, in Bispham, where Paige grew up, friends and family made their way to a bench that has been installed in her memory.
Relatives released balloons into the sky after the unveiling of the bench, in Bispham village, which was engraved: “No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye. Forever in our hearts.”
Miss Wilkinson, also from Bispham, helped set up the fund to cover the cost of the bench and the service, which she described as “brilliant”.
She said the fact Paige’s body was never found made it hard for the family to accept her death as they have never been able to lay her to rest.
But Reverend Simon Cox, who led yesterday’s service, said it was an important step forward for them.
Addressing the congregation at the church, on All Hallows Road, he said: “This day has been a long day coming.
“We do now have somebody in prison, charged with her murder and found guilty.
“But we don’t have full closure – this is a stepping stone.
“There’s still hope that there might be a day when we can finally lay her body to rest.”
In July, Robert Ewing, 60, was jailed for a minimum of 33 years for murdering Paige, after a jury at Preston Crown Court was convinced she had been killed.
He was also convicted of perverting the course of justice by intimidating witnesses and lying to police.
His co-defendant, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, was convicted of perverting the course of justice and assisting Ewing to dispose of Paige’s body. He was jailed for a total of eight years.
Previous stories on the murder trial of Paige Chivers...