A village church was packed on Monday for the funeral of tragic three-year-old Ellie Walker.
Mourners – many wearing pink or purple, the toddler’s favourite colours – filled St Mary’s Church at Riddlesden, where it was standing room only.
Before the start of the service, images of a playful Ellie, who used to attend as part of the congregation, were projected on to a screen.
With her tiny white coffin at the front of the church, the Reverend Mike Cansdale welcomed everyone and said Ellie would have loved the muddy puddles outside on what was a windy, wet morning.
After the singing of All Things Bright And Beautiful, from a special, pink order of service card, those present – people of all ages who had been touched by the tot’s untimely death – heard from Ellie’s mum, Andrea Walker.
In a tearful, emotion-charged address, she spoke of how her daughter was always happy and “made people laugh with her antics”.
She loved going to her grandmother’s house, especially to make fairy buns, and attending events with the town council, of which Mrs Walker is a member.
“God loaned me an angel for three years and took her back to be an angel,” she said.
In his sermon, the Reverend Cansdale said he recalled how Ellie played in the church and had appeared in the nativity play.
“She was beautiful, fun-loving, energetic, adventurous and smiley,” he said.
He added an Easter candle was lit in the church, indicating life goes on after death. “It isn’t the end if you believe in Jesus,” he said.
A commendation and blessing was given after the singing of The Lord’s My Shepherd. And as the coffin was carried out of the church, You Are My Sunshine was played.
Donations were invited to Airedale Hospital’s special care baby unit, where Ellie spent some time after being born prematurely, weighing just 4lb 9oz.
The service was followed by interment at Morton Cemetery.
Mrs Walker, of Bar Lane in Riddlesden, attempted to resuscitate Ellie with CPR and mouth-to-mouth after finding her laid motionless on her bed on the morning of January 14, but she was pronounced dead on arrival at Airedale Hospital.
An initial post-mortem examination was inconclusive, and further samples have been taken for analysis in a bid to establish the cause of death.
Mrs Walker has been warned it could be several more weeks before she learns what happened to Ellie, who was a popular member of the Mothers’ and Toddlers’ group at St Mary’s and had just started at the village’s Bramble Hedge playgroup.