Church stages special service to honour the memory of Jayden

The Oxford Times: Candles lit during the service for Jayden Candles lit during the service for Jayden

FRIENDS and family of teenager Jayden Parkinson gathered at an emotional church service in her memory.

About 50 people – including mother Erica Simms – remembered the 17-year-old in a service of prayer at All Saints’ Church, Didcot.

The former Didcot Girls’ School pupil’s body was found in a recently disturbed burial plot at the church on Wednesday night. Her boyfriend Ben Blakeley, 22, of Christchurch Road, Reading, has been charged with her murder while a 17-year-old has been charged with perverting the course of justice.

The Rev Karen Beck said at Saturday night’s service: “Today is the shortest day of the year and the darkest day of the year and that somehow seems to sum up where we are in this town and particularly where Jayden’s family are.”

She said Jayden “had a light shining in her”, adding: “We mustn’t be overcome by evil. We must overcome evil with good.”

The school choir performed piano-led versions of Snow Patrol’s Run, Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know and Sarah McLachlan’s Angel.

A prayer was said for Jayden, and Ms Beck said: “Thank you, God, for Jayden’s life and the way it touched our lives. May her memory live on in all of us forever.”

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Those who attended were given a white ribbon, the symbol of the campaign to stop violence against women.

A picture of Jayden was also projected on a screen.

Her mother said: “We as a family thank everyone of Didcot for being so kind and compassionate.”

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