'OUR ROSE OF SOHAM'; Father Reads His Poem at Cathedral Service for Holly and Jessica Day to Celebrate Them

By Arkell, Harriet; Keeley, Graham | The Evening Standard (London, England), August 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

'OUR ROSE OF SOHAM'; Father Reads His Poem at Cathedral Service for Holly and Jessica Day to Celebrate Them


Arkell, Harriet, Keeley, Graham, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: HARRIET ARKELL;GRAHAM KEELEY

THE FATHER of Holly Wells read a poem he had written in her memory to a packed Ely Cathedral this afternoon.

The title, Soham's Rose, was a poignant echo of Elton John's song, England's Rose, written for another tragedy which gripped the nation - the death of Diana, Princess of Wales exactly five years ago tomorrow.

Kevin Wells, 38, read his tribute to his daughter, murdered with her best friend Jessica Chapman, to a congregation of friends, relatives, neighbours, teachers and police, while television cameras rolled.

Today's service was one of thanksgiving for the short lives of the two 10-year-olds.

In his poem, contract cleaner Mr Wells described his only daughter as "so young at heart, needing comfort at night". The poem goes on: "The garden so quiet, the house is too. But pausing for a moment, we can still sense you."

The third and final verse acknowledged how the whole country has shared in the two families' grief, with the words: "Our memories, now shared, with the Nation's hearts.

Small crumbs of comfort, now it is time to part. We will never forget you, heaven's gain, as it knows, Is simply you Holly, our beautiful Soham rose."

Jessica's parents Leslie and Sharon, who on Sunday will have to cope with what would have been her 11th birthday, had chosen to pay tribute to their daughter with a fourverse poem called Lord Of Comfort written by Kathleen Golding, a local woman moved by the tragedy. The Chapmans had asked one of the police family liaison officers, who have virtually lived with them since the girls went missing, to read it.

The second verse touched on the Chapman family's agony as they face the future without their spirited little girl, saying: "With so many questions unanswered, This family are feeling such pain. From the loss of their precious daughter, And their longing to see her again." Many members of the invited congregation arrived early for the 5pm service, including police officers who helped search for the two little girls. Those who had not managed to get a ticket crowded outside, keen to show their support for the stricken families.

Those inside could listen to the sermon, written by the Soham parish priest who has helped the families through some of their darkest moments, the Rev Tim Alban Jones.

He called upon the congregation to celebrate rather than mourn the two friends' lives, addressed the question of moving forwards from the tragedy, and reminded the congregation of the private pain of a very public ordeal.

"We have seen strangers and friends helping together in shared grief and anguish," he said. "Ultimately this tragedy is about two families each losing a beloved daughter."

The two girls disappeared on Sunday, 4 August from their home town of Soham, Cambridgeshire, after going out to buy sweets. A massive police hunt, one of Britain's biggest ever, was sparked. Their bodies were found 13 days later near RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, 12 miles away, by members of the public out walking. …

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