THE mother of tragic Alesha MacPhail yesterday paid a heartbreaking tribute to her daughter as hundreds of mourners gathered to say their final farewell.
Family members carried the schoolgirl’s pink coffin to a waiting hearse, a white carriage drawn by two white horses with pink feathers and drapes.
Her mother, Georgina Lochrane, led tributes to the six-year-old in a card left in flowers, saying: “Every single day will be harder than the day before to walk this earth without you by my side.
“I love you more than this world Princess, fly high. It’s not goodbye, only goodnight.”
Alesha died while on her summer holiday on the Isle of Bute earlier this month. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with her rape and murder. Around 600 people, many wearing pink, met at Coats Funeral Home in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire yesterday morning, near the youngster’s home town of Airdrie.
A purple toy unicorn, Mickey Mouse and hundreds of teddy bears lined the outside walls of the former church where the hour-long service took place.
Pink and white ribbons covered the fencing, and floral tributes reading “daughter” and “sister” also lay outside, along with a banner which read: “Our forever shining star, our little angel, forever in our hearts.”
Tributes were led by Macgregors Funeral Directors, with Alesha’s head teacher Wendy Davie, class teacher Emma Gibson, her uncle Calum MacPhail and her dad Robert MacPhail’s partner Toni McLachlan also sharing their memories.
Calum MacPhail sobbed as he spoke to mourners, and said: “I just can’t believe she is gone.
“Alesha brightened my day. She had a great amount of love for absolutely anyone, regardless of whether she knew them or not. Alesha was everything that I wanted to be. She was kind, caring and really smart.
“I always said that girl would have gone far.
“She is never going to be out of our minds.”
He was comforted Georgina, known as Genie, who went up to hug him as he returned to his seat near the schoolgirl’s little sister Courtney, aged four, and other family members.
Alesha’s teachers from Airdrie’s Chapelside Primary said the six-year-old was always the first to notice if fellow classmates didn’t have a friend, and she would even bring extra playpieces to share with them.
Class teacher Emma Gibson said that the schoolgirl loved working on her literacy and handwriting and enjoyed performing in school shows such as The Lion King.
She said: “Her favourite thing to do was play dress up. She was born for the stage.
“Alesha was a bright and bubbly little girl, she always came into class with that big beautiful smile of hers.
“It was an absolute pleasure to have taught Alesha. I’m so grateful to have known this special little girl.”
Funeral director Fraser Macgregor told mourners of Alesha’s love for all animals, her “heart of gold”, her competitive nature and confidence which made her “older than her years.”
He also addressed her four-year-old sister Courtney, saying: “She loved you so much.” and added: “The last time they were together, they were cuddling up on the couch saying ‘Best friends forever’. She was the best big sister, best daughter, best granddaughter and friend that anyone could have asked for.”
The Peppa Pig theme tune was among the songs playing as the service, with the final song – This Little Light of Mine – playing as bubbles floated above mourners’ heads inside the venue.
Alesha’s mother was helped out of the church in tears, clutching the order of service and surrounded by relatives. A piper played while mourners lined the streets, forming a guard of honour for the funeral procession to pass through.
The family then made their way to a private burial at Coltswood Cemetery.
Alesha had been on her summer holidays in Bute, staying with her dad Robert and grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail.
On Monday July 2, frantic Angela posted a plea on social media for locals to help in the search for her granddaughter, who had vanished from their home during the night. Police and hordes of Bute residents scoured the island for the schoolgirl before her body was found in woodland around three hours after she was reported missing.
She was discovered by a member of the public on the site of a former hotel on Ardbeg Road, around 20 minutes’ walk from her grandparents’ home.
A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested and charged in connection with her death. It is understood he is known to the family.
He has been charged with rape and murder, and is set to face trial following a second appearance at Greenock Sheriff Court last week.
Following Alesha’s death, residents in Bute held a candlelit vigil for the schoolgirl, with almost £13,000 raised online to support her family.
Another vigil was held in Airdrie, where lanterns and balloons were released.
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