Poignant birthday wishes for tragic golden girl Sarah

IPSWICH: She had so much to live for.

And nothing is more testament to that than the hundreds of people, relatives, friends and strangers who have paid tribute to Ipswich golden-girl Sarah Shields in the past week.

The 23-year-old was reported missing last Sunday July 11 by her concerned family after she failed to return home from her first holiday with new boyfriend Chris Chittock.

On Wednesday July 7, the body of a woman was discovered off the southern coast of Gran Canaria. Last Thursday police officers confirmed the body was that of Sarah.

Chittock, of Alnesbourn Crescent in Ravenswood, was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of Sarah’s murder. On Thursday the 36-year-old was bailed for murder and charged with perverting the course of justice.

He appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court on Friday where he was committed to Ipswich Crown Court and is due to appear there next Tuesday.

One of those on the holiday island who reported seeing Sarah’s body to Spanish coastguards was Lou Brown, of Harlow, Essex.

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She joined a tribute group to Sarah, set up on the social networking site Facebook.

“I am one of the people who called the coastguard on July 7th,” she said. “My family and I have our thoughts with Sarah’s family and we are so sorry for your loss.

“We’ll never forget that day.”

On Saturday Sarah should have been celebrating her 24th birthday with her close family and friends.

But instead dozens of messages were left for the “bubbly and fun-loving” birthday girl.

Sarah’s sister Linda Stephenson, who has described her “precious” sister as a “beautiful person inside and out,” said: “Birthday Wishes, darling sister.

“I bet you’re dancing on that great beach in the sky. Loving you, missing you forever X X X.”

And friend Alice Swallow added: “Happy birthday Sarah.

“I hope your having a great party on the beach up in heaven. I will never forget you and all the good times we had together.

“I’m going to send you some balloons today. Thinking of u Sweetie X X.”

Meanwhile messages have flooded into the Evening Star from all four corners of the world.

One reader, Seabird from Australia, said: “Thoughts and prayers from Australia go out to the huge number of people affected by Sarah’s possible murder.”