Sad farewell to Natasha

AS the family and friends of Natasha Coombs gather today to say farewell to this bright teenager, the thoughts and prayers of people from across Suffolk and Essex will be with them.

AS the family and friends of Natasha Coombs gather today to say farewell to this bright teenager, the thoughts and prayers of people from across Suffolk and Essex will be with them.

Natasha's untimely death has cast a shadow across many lives across the area, and the response of the community as a whole shows exactly how many lives she touched in her 17 years.

Of course today will be most painful for her grieving family and her special friend Josh Brennan who hoped to make a life with her in the future.

It would be good to think that those who loved Natasha will be able to take comfort in the number of tributes that have appeared since her death.

But in reality nothing that anyone has said, nor the number of tributes that have appeared, will compensate them for their dreadful loss.

There will always be a gap in their lives - an empty place at the table at family events over the years and decades.

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The hearts of the community go out to those at Natasha's funeral today. There is nothing worse than for parents to bury their children.

The hurt will never go away - but everyone will hope that in time the ache will become easier to live with.

IN a modern democracy, respect for human rights must be at the very centre of the political and judicial system.

For that reason the Human Rights Act is a vital part of our law - and it is something everyone should respect.

However human rights have to apply to everyone, to victims of crime as well as those who commit offences.

That is why it is absolutely right for the government to appeal against the decision to allow the killer of Philip Lawrence, Learco Chindamo, to stay in this country once he becomes eligible for parole next year.

The family of Mr Lawrence rightly feel that their human rights were not considered by the tribunal which considered the case of Italian national Chindamo - who argued that his human rights would be affected if he was sent back to the land of his birth.

This decision urgently needs to be re-examined if the British public are to retain faith in the Human Rights Act - and not just see it as charter for criminals' rights.

IPSWICH Community Carnival has established itself as a wonderful August institution over the last few years, and this year's event helped bring a real splash of colour to one of the drabbest weekends of a miserable summer.

The sun might not have shone, but this was certainly a bright event lit up by enthusiasm of everyone who took part in the day.

When the traditional Ipswich carnival collapsed at the end of the 1990s there was a real fear that part of town's history had been lost.

But the new event, celebrating the town's diversity has filled the gap and become a wonderful event that really does offer something for everyone.

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