Hundreds farewell Grace in hometown
Grace Millane, the British backpacker who was travelling the world when she was murdered in New Zealand, has been farewelled, with mourners singing Amazing Grace at her funeral service.
Friends and family and mourners numbered in the hundreds gathered at Brentwood Cathedral in Brentwood, Essex, at 11.30am local time on Thursday before the burial in her hometown of Ramsden Bellhouse.
The 22-year-old was on the trip of a lifetime and had only been in New Zealand just over a week when she disappeared.
A week later, on December 9, her body was found in the Waitakere Ranges, 10 metres off Scenic Drive in thick bushland.
It was devastating news for not only Millane’s friends and family but for the nation who became enveloped in the disappearance case.
Her coffin was carried into the cathedral by six pallbearers, including her brothers Michael and Declan and her father, BBC reports.
Grace’s father, David Millane, was visibly distraught during the procession and gave an emotional eulogy.
Michael and Declan read the poem Until We Meet Again.
It begins: “Each morning when we awake, we know that you are gone, and no one knows the heartache, as we try to carry on”.
Father John Corbyn, who led the Mass, said after the service that the Millanes were “a very strong family”.
“You can perceive a great deal of love and bonding and strength within that family, and they have many friends who will, I believe, help them.”
Late last year, thousands of people turned out to vigils held throughout New Zealand after the death.
Millane was last seen on December 1 when she was caught on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel with the man accused of murdering her.
The 26-year-old was arrested and appeared in the Auckland District Court last month and will reappear in the Auckland High Court on January 23.
He was granted interim name suppression after his lawyer made an appeal, sparking a worldwide outcry against the decision.
Police declined to comment on whether any representatives would attend the funeral.
Millane’s father and uncle travelled to New Zealand to help find her.
Shortly after arresting the man, police also made an appeal for the sighting of a 2016 red Toyota Corolla hatchback. The car was rented and returned to an Auckland rental car firm after her death.
Police said the vehicle was located in Taupo¯ but not driven there by her alleged killer.
In a heartfelt statement, David Millane said his daughter would “forever be a Kiwi”.
“Grace went off to travel the world in mid-October and arrived in New Zealand on the 20th November,” he said.
“By the amount of pictures and messages we received she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle . . . After the disappearance of Grace on 1st December 2018 our whole world turned upside down . . . we would like to thank the people of New Zealand for their outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion.
“Grace was not born here [New Zealand] and only managed to stay a few weeks, but you have taken her to your hearts and in some small way she will forever be a Kiwi.”
The funeral for murdered backpacker Grace Millane took place at Brentwood Cathedral in Essex.