Despite the grand setting of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Ava White’s funeral felt deeply personal and utterly tragic.
The 12-year old’s small coffin, led into the service by her older sister Mia, was carried by loved ones and covered with family photographs.
Ava’s family had asked people not to wear black, but bright colourful clothes, to reflect the lively, loved girl who they had lost.
Outside, a group of mourners clapped as Ava’s body passed them.
Her funeral was open to the public and hundreds came: this, in Liverpool, feels frighteningly close to home.
Inside the cathedral were family, friends, lots of young people and members of the public who didn’t know Ava but know her tragic story.
A large Christmas tree, covered in white lights, stood just metres from Ava’s coffin.
It felt like a sad visual reminder that Ava would not be here at a time of year meant for family, togetherness and joy.
Leading the service was the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon.
In a moving address, he said: “There is little sadder in life than the death of the child.”
‘Grief is overwhelming’
“The grief we are experiencing is overwhelming.”
He described Ava as popular, spirited and fearless.
“This strong willed girl was loved by so many people,” the Archbishop said. “So no doubt heaven will be a happier place because of this exuberant young person.
“No doubt she will have taken it by storm.”
Ava White was killed last month, on 25 November.
She had been in Liverpool city centre with a group of friends to watch the Christmas lights being turned on.
Stabbed in the neck
But shortly after, she was attacked and stabbed in the neck.
She died, later, at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
A boy, 14, has been charged with Ava’s murder and is expected to go on trial next year.
But today there was no mention of a trial or an attack.
Instead, there was talk of love, fond memories and of a little girl, who still had so much life to live.