There were tears, hugs and a few smiles at a balloon release this teatime (Sunday, November 13) as Ellesmere Port turned out to remember a young woman who died in tragic circumstances.
Ellia Arathoon, 29, who lived in the town centre, has been missing since October 28. A local man has been charged with her murder.
Ellia’s best friend Steph Griffiths wanted to ‘light up the sky’ for her special pal in a colourful and touching show of support for grieving loved ones.
Family, friends and the community at large gathered at the end of Cromwell Road, with balloons in hand, before crossing the footbridge to the other side of the canal close to what is believed to have been Ellia’s last resting place.
Her eight-year-old son Reece, accompanied by his dad John and step-mum Zoe, released the first balloon, carrying a letter he had penned to his mum, because he now thinks of her as an angel in heaven.
Ellia’s mum and dad, Elaina and Lee, were also present along with her sister Emma.
The impressive turn-out contributed to a tear-jerking yet heart-warming atmosphere.
Organiser Steph, who lives in Ellesmere Port, said: “I’m just really, really overwhelmed at everyone turning out. It’s really emotional. It’s obvious how loved she was and the support for her family is amazing.”
Ellia’s dad Lee said: “It’s amazing. Ellia would have been proud to have been so liked. I can’t say thank you enough.”
Her young son Reece was slightly overwhelmed by the occasion but clearly pleased to see so many people. His dad John wanted him to see how much love there was for his mum while shielding him from the details of what happened.
A make-shift memorial had been created around a waymarker incorporating a cross, adorned with floral tributes and lit candles at the base, featuring happy, smiling pictures of Ellia.
Sky lanterns were released with permission of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. And tealights were floated down the canal, creating a beautiful effect as the darkness drew in.
Undercover police mingled with the crowd to ensure everyone’s safety.
A fundraising night in memory of Ellia takes place at the Sir Robert pub, Overpool Road, Ellesmere Port, on Saturday, November 19, with all proceeds to be donated to a charity of her family’s choice.
■ Craig Andrew Procter, 39, of Shephard Close, Ellesmere Port, has been charged with Ellia’s murder. He will enter a plea on December 2 and could face a trial next April if he pleads not guilty.