Prayers as campaign gains momentum

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Louise Woodward's friends and neighbours in her home of Elton prayed yesterday for all "whose vision of the world is seen through prison bars".

Parishioners at the churches of St James's and St Mary's in the neighbouring villages of Ince and Thornton-Le-Moors were asked to offer up their prayers for 19-year-old Louise and her family.

At St Mary's, the Rev Ken Davey read out letters of support from the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Rev Michael Langrish, and former vicars of the parish.

"I have been overwhelmed by the telephone calls and mail coming in from all around the world," he added.

"Over pounds 6,000 in contributions and donations came into The Rigger pub yesterday morning. You are not alone. There are an awful lot of people out there thinking and praying like you."

Before the sermon Mr Davey added: "I am not preaching about Louise. I am too emotional to actually do it. Secondly, I haven't had enough time to sit down and reflect on the situation."

Many parishioners filing out of the small chapel wore the yellow ribbons which have come to signify the struggle to bring Ms Woodward back home.

Hazel Mayamba-Kasongo, a fund-raiser, said that the community was considering setting up counselling lines for people all over the world who are pouring out their emotions as a result of Louise's conviction. "We are getting phone calls from people who are grieving," she said.

"We need counsellors desperately. People are crying their eyes out at what has happened."

Ms Mayamba-Kasongo said money was pouring in from all over the world and that the campaign to bring Louise home was gathering momentum.