FAMILY and friends gathered to bid an emotional farewell to a girl who died suddenly earlier this month.
The funeral of Imogen Mead, who died aged just 11, was held at St John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth yesterday.
Imogen, from Buckland, died unexpectedly of meningitis on August 1 – just two days after being rushed to hospital.
Hundreds of family, friends and members of the public filled the cathedral for a traditional catholic mass, conducted by Father John Paul Lyttle.
Imogen’s father, Ray Mead, gave an emotional remembrance speech, saying that his daughter was ‘so kind and thoughtful to others’.
He read: ‘She was a proper daddy’s girl with such a close bond to us all.
‘Sleep tight my baby, you’re always in our hearts.’
Imogen’s school friend, Julia Sajkowska, also gave a heartwarming speech, calling Imogen ‘the most talented person I knew, and probably will know’.
She said: ‘When the world fell apart, Imogen helped me put it back together.’
‘Imogen will never forget us and she will never be forgotten.’
Guests went to neighbouring Victoria Park after the service to join Imogen’s theatre troupe for another musical tribute.
The Young Creatives performed James Bay’s Hold Back The River before releasing balloons into the sky with memories of Imogen attached to them.
Tomi Shepherd, a member of the group, said: ‘I think it was so meaningful to everyone about how much support they got, and in these hard times, it was almost beautiful really.’
During the homily, Rev Lyttle fondly remembered Imogen as a ‘creative’ student at St John’s Catholic Primary School, commending her performance in an end-of-term production of Shrek.
He said: ‘The motto of the school worked with Imogen: “Love to learn and learn to love”.’
Imogen’s cream fabric casket was adorned with colourful fabric flowers to memorialise her flair for arts and crafts.
The casket was taken for burial at Kingston Cemetery in a carriage drawn by white horses – Imogen’s favourite animal.
Larissa Berry, a fellow Young Creative, said: ‘It reflected her because she was like a sign of purity – she was a very nice girl.’