Silent tribute to Rachel Nickell

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The Independent Online
A THOUSAND people took part in a silent march yesterday in memory of Rachel Nickell and all the other 'silent and invisible' victims of brutality around the world.

Men, women and children - some walking, some on horseback - paid tribute to the 23-year-old mother murdered last month on Wimbledon Common, south-west London. Ms Nickell was stabbed to death while walking her dog with her two-year-old son, Alex. He was found cuddling her body.

The marchers moved in procession from Wimbledon village to the spot where she was found and later held a service nearby. Many laid wreaths with touching messages. Others were unable to hold back the tears.

Ms Nickell's boyfriend, Andre Hanscombe, was not on the march. He was preparing for Rachel's funeral today at St Andrew's church in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, where her parents live.

A family friend, Gordon Hammond, read out a message sent from Mr Hanscombe which said he was 'surprised and moved' to hear of yesterday's affectionate gesture. He paid tribute to Rachel and her enjoyment of the 'simple beauty of life'.

'She possessed a sublime understanding of how good life could be. You always felt better for having met Rachel,' he said. 'She was a person of striking looks and for those fortunate enough to know her the real beauty came from inside. To see the pleasure and enjoyment she shared with our young son gave people an idea of what life can really be about.'

Mr Hanscombe said his heart also went out to other victims. 'This kind of violence is becoming more and more commonplace here. Man's savagery and brutality is inflicting this kind of pain and suffering in the world every single moment of the day and night.

'If you shed a tear for Rachel, she would also have you shed one for every victim of violence.'

The Rev Andrew Studdert- Kennedy of St Mary's church, Wimbledon, said such a sorrowful occasion did not lend itself to words, but to silence. It was impossible to make sense of, or explain, the vile murder, he said.

(Photograph omitted)