April Jones' parents thank the public for their support one month on from the five-year-old's disappearance

 

The parents of missing five-year-old April Jones have thanked the public for their support one month on from the youngster's sudden disappearance.

In a statement released four weeks to the day after the schoolgirl was abducted from the quiet market town of Machynlleth in mid Wales, Coral and Paul Jones also described how they were “overwhelmed” by the amount of resources being used to find their “beautiful daughter”.

They said: “It is four weeks since April was taken from us, as a family we are obviously devastated and our lives have been torn apart.

“Since October 1 we have received messages, flowers and cards from across not only the UK but the world and we have taken comfort knowing that people are thinking of April and us.

“Thank you for all your kind words and sentiments.”

The statement, released by Dyfed Powys Police, continued: “We have been continually updated about the investigation and the search for April.

“We are overwhelmed by the massive amount of resources being used and we are extremely grateful that so many search teams are still out there, every day, looking for our beautiful daughter.

“We have been supported by our family, friends and neighbours over the past four weeks and it has been their love and support that has helped us get through each day.”

Police are continuing their painstaking search for the missing five-year-old, who was last seen getting into a vehicle near her home.

More than 40,000 man hours spent meticulously hunting for the missing girl have so far uncovered no trace of her and more than 150 expert searchers still scour 60 square kilometres of rugged tree-covered terrain around the town every day.

Mountains, derelict mines, potholes, lakes, the River Dyfi and the town itself fall within more than 300 search areas.

Every five days search teams are stood down and replaced by an equal number of freshly-rested experts eager to start work.

Dyfed Powys Police continue to co-ordinate the massive operation and have vowed to search on into 2013 if necessary.

There has also been significant support from the local community - and across the world - with thousands continuing to wear pink ribbons as a sign of solidarity for the youngster's parents.

Prayers have continued to be said in churches across Wales, as well as users of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter continuing to re-post appeals for information.

Her parents are also understood to be receiving specialist help from police over the festive holiday season.

Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas - all family-orientated events - are set to be especially traumatic for her loved ones.

To mark the third week of her disappearance, Machynlleth town hall clock tower was lit in pink as a tribute and on Monday 200 pink balloons were released into the air in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Mr and Mrs Jones said: “We have taken great strength from the procession through the town to the church and the lighting-up of the town clock in pink, April's favourite colour.

“With the help of our family liaison officers, local police officers and friends, we were able to participate in both events.

“We avoided media attention because we simply wanted to be part of the community without drawing attention away from the events themselves.

“Thank you to every single person who attended each event and made them so special.”

April, who suffers from cerebral palsy and has irritable bowel syndrome, was last seen at about 7pm on October 1 playing out on her bike with friends on the Bryn-y-Gog estate.

She had been allowed to stay up later after getting a glowing school report earlier in the day.

Local man Mark Bridger, 46, was arrested the day after and his Land Rover Discovery seized for forensic examination.

He was later charged with the abduction and murder of April.

Speaking today, Ceri Herbert, 33, a friend of April's family, said the youngster's parents were “focused every day” on finding their daughter.

She said: “It's hard to describe how they are coping. Obviously, they are devastated but really there are no words to describe the pain they are going through.

“For Paul and Coral, their focus every day is to find April and I think only then will they be able to look to the future.”

Ms Herbert said the couple “keep going” for the sake of April's brother and sisters.

She said: “The whole family are so strong, I'm just in awe of them. I couldn't fathom how they feel, yet they still have the courage to get up in the morning and have the drive to find April.

“April's siblings are obviously a major reason why their parents can keep going at the moment.

“They have as much hope as everyone else in the family and the community.”

The couple had also taken support from “countless” messages sent from around the world. Ms Herbert said: “”People have sent cards and letters, sent their love and said that April is constantly in their thoughts and it means so much to Paul and Coral.

“Knowing that the police are doing such a fantastic job also means so much to them. As a community, we have had to step back from the search to allow the professionals to do their work. But we still have to be vigilant and support the wonderful police and search teams.

“The community just want to support Coral and the family as much as we can. We have all got hope that April will be found soon.”

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