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18 January 2016, 16:55
Leicestershire teenager Kayleigh Haywood has been remembered at her funeral as a bright schoolgirl who had ``a heart of gold'' and always put her family first
Around 400 mourners joined the family of the 15-year-old, whose body was found in woodland in November after an extensive police search operation, at a service in her home village of Measham, Leicestershire.
Tributes written by members of Kayleigh's family, including her siblings, were read out at the service by Baptist minister Roy Monks.
Kayleigh's former primary school headmaster, Derek Mullan, also addressed mourners at St Laurence's Church, describing how she always found a way to end up on the same playground as her younger brother when he started at the same school.
The headteacher told the service: ``For the staff of the school, one of the most endearing memories was of Kayleigh's big smile as she bounded down the corridor first thing in the morning.
``She would have a cheery 'Good morning' and staff would return the greeting. Kayleigh would have a chat with any member of staff and a few minutes of friendly banter in the morning.
``In common with us all, Kayleigh didn't get it right all the time. She had her moments; she could challenge the patience of us all. However, she did have a heart of gold. She loved and protected her family.''
Kayleigh had taken a real interest in the sights and sounds of London during a school residential trip to see a theatre production, Mr Mullan said, adding: ``She was very independent, she knew how to organise herself, organise her belongings, manage her money and her time.
``She seemed to make this a personal challenge and was noticeably better than all her school mates.''
Capital spoke with Canon Vivien Elphick who opened the service.
Eddie Green, headteacher of Ashby School, told the congregation that Kayleigh, who attended the school for more than a year, had been expected to pass all her GCSE subjects and had taken particular pride in her work in art.
``The whole of our school community has been saddened and touched by these tragic events, but the way in which they have pulled together has been quite remarkable,'' Mr Green said.
``These events have shown that Kayleigh's death touched all of us and she would have been proud of the way her friends and school mates responded.''
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