Church services honour London Bridge terror attack victims
The lives of London Bridge terror attack victims Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones have been celebrated by friends and family at two church services.
A funeral service for 25-year-old Mr Merritt was held at Great St Mary’s Church in Cambridge on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a memorial service for Ms Jones, 23, took place at Holy Trinity Church in her home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Friends of Mr Merritt carried his wicker casket into a full to capacity church while This Charming Man by the Smiths played.
A booklet of tributes and photos of Mr Merritt, from Cottenham in Cambridgeshire, was handed to mourners, while Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave was present to play Into My Arms at the service’s conclusion.
Flanked by two large posters featuring a photo of his smiling face, close friends and family remembered and joked about Mr Merritt’s fashion sense, political passion, cooking, gym routine and the support he gave them.
His tearful girlfriend Leanne O’Brien, who laid a hand on his casket as she walked to the front of the congregation of hundreds, said she and Mr Merritt had been “inseparable” and that he gave her “the best two and a half years of my life”.
“He made me feel it was possible to achieve anything and everything,” she said.
“I’ll miss your big heart and how loved you made me feel.
“Most of all I’ll miss a future that we had planned together.”
Mr Merritt’s father David told mourners the family had received letters from prisoners praising his son who they knew through the Learning Together rehabilitation programme.
Ms Jones and Mr Merritt were attending a Learning Together event when they were attacked by Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall in central London last month.
The two graduates were course coordinators on the Cambridge University programme, which aimed to bring offenders and people in higher education together to “study alongside each other”.
David Merritt said: “Jack’s death is a tragedy but his short life is a triumph” and urged those in church to “never give up his fight.”
Rev Patrick Taylor lead the service for Ms Jones, in the church where playwright William Shakespeare is buried.
Ms Jones’ mother Michelle Jones, her grandmother, and other family members attended the memorial, and had held a private funeral earlier in the day.
Reading the tribute, Rev Michael Price, deputy headteacher of Bloxham School where she had studied, said Ms Jones’ was a “life-shaper”, a woman of “courage” and “never forgotten”.
He said: “If I have single narrative to tell, it is of a young woman who took time to know the talents and the strengths, the rest of us could always see.
“A young woman who through sheer determination and hard work put her talents to good.
“And then used it on behalf of everyone else, that’s what she did. I watched it up close.”
He added: “It’s up to us to make sure that Saskia’a light burns on, brightly, in this world.
“I am quite sure she will be shining forever in the next.”
There were readings by both Ms Jones’ uncle, Phil Jones – who read Psalm 121, and her mother, who recited Nicole Lyons’ I Hope That Someday When I Am Gone.
The service concluded with the playing of James Blunt track, The Greatest.
Ms Jones’s family requested donations for Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, while Mr Merritt’s asked for contributions to children’s charity For Kids Law.