Goodbyes for Walton

"Her smile, her enthusiasm, all that made Stevie Stevie."These were the poignant words that remembered "little ray of sunshine" Stevie Mayes, the young Walton girl who suddenly died last week.

"Her smile, her enthusiasm, all that made Stevie Stevie."

These were the poignant words that remembered "little ray of sunshine" Stevie Mayes, the young Walton girl who suddenly died last week.

More than 150 family and friends celebrated the eight-year-old's life with pop music and hymns yesterday.

Several mourners in the full St Mary's Church in Walton, had to stand while they heard tributes from teachers, school friends and the parents of Stevie at her funeral yesterday.

Bright yellow flowers, bouquets and arrangements including one in the shape of a dolphin, Stevie's favourite animal, lined the path to the church and an arrangement of yellow flowers spelling out the little girl's name was on display inside.

Poignant messages attached to each arrangement painted a picture of a happy young girl with a zest for life.

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A neighbouring family of Stevie's on Graham Road, Walton, wrote of how they would miss seeing her playing on their street and other messages all mentioned her happy character and bright smile.

Reverend Rod Corke, the minister at St Mary's Church, said the community had been "shaken and shocked" by the news of Stevie's death.

"We will celebrate and give thanks to Stevie's energy for life, her smile, her enthusiasm, all that made Stevie Stevie," he said.

He told the congregation they would sing songs that Stevie would have sung at school which included 'He's got the whole world in his hands'. And in a moment of "bitter sweet" reflection they listened to a song by Stevie's favourite pop group, S Club 7.

Rev Corke led prayers for the community, Stevie's mum Donna, her dad Stevie and her two brothers Daniel, 15 and Jason, 12.

He said: "Why has this happened to such a lovely family and such as lovely, vivacious little girl.

"When tragedy happens we all search for answers. Why did God take Stevie? I would have to say that to this moment I have no answers for you."

Paul Rooney, head teacher at Causton Junior school, told the congregation how Stevie's teachers and her school friends had remembered her.

"Stevie's nickname within the family was Spud and Dinks, she was a lively child and a lovely eight-year-old girl.

"She was a happy little girl who was full of fun, always on the go and especially fond of P.E."

Mrs Doggett, her class teacher from last year had told Mr Rooney: "She always felt less than well but always gave most to life and friendship.

"Stevie was very popular with all the class, the boys and the girls, and especially Stephanie and Briley ," said Mr Rooney.

Stevie's parents asked Mr Rooney to read out messages from them to their daughter.

"Mummy and Daddy love you very much, Patch the dog will stay with us and look after us for you. Your brothers will always love you and not forget you.

"We only had you a short amount of time. The memories will last a lifetime. There will never be a day that goes by when I won't be thinking of you."

Her Dad's message described his "little ray of sun shine that brightened up my life." His message read: "I love you Dinks. You will always be touching my heart."

Stevie died on June 30. She would have been nine in less than a month.

*The Evening Star launched a memorial fund yesterday in memory of Stevie. The Star, along with Stevie's school, are hoping to raise enough money to plant yellow roses and to place an engraved plaque in the school's gardens. To donate money send cheques payable to Causton Junior School to The Stevie Mayes Memorial Fund, Causton Junior School, Maidstone Road, Felixstowe. IP11 9ED.

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