Browns offer thanks for a life all too brief

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The Independent Online

The baby daughter of Chancellor Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah was laid to rest yesterday following a thanksgiving service to commemorate her brief life.

The couple arrived by chauffeur-driven car at the church in Kirkcaldy, Fife, for the funeral of Jennifer Jane. Mr Brown helped his wife from the car and the couple walked hand-in-hand into St Brycedale Church, where Mr Brown's father had once been minister, to remember the life of their 10-day-old daughter.

The service, held less than a mile from the hospital where Jennifer was born seven weeks prematurely, weighing only 2lb 4oz, on 28 December, was conducted by the Reverend Sheila Munro, of North Queensferry Parish Church. She married the Browns in August 2000 and baptised their daughter in the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary hours before she died on Monday after the child suffered a brain haemorrhage.

The order of service, which was distributed outside the church to the crowd of local well-wishers, carried a picture of a one-hour-old Jennifer sleeping in her cot.

The 40-minute service in the 120-year-old stone church was attended by senior figures from the world of politics, both Westminster and Holyrood. Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, arrived shortly before the service with the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and his wife, Pauline, and a former Cabinet colleague, Frank Dobson.

Mrs Brown's brother, Sean, delivered a reading from St Matthew's Gospel: "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted", and the Chancellor's brother, Andrew, read a passage on love from the first book of Corinthians.

Another reading from St Mark's Gospel – the account of how Jesus rebuked disciples who tried to discourage people from bringing little children to be touched by him – was given by another of Mrs Brown's brothers, Bruce Macaulay.

After an address by Mrs Munro, the Chancellor's elder brother, John, who is public relations chief for Glasgow Council, gave a tribute in memory of Jennifer. At the end of the service, a two-foot long light oak coffin, with a silk ribbon and a small bouquet, was carried from the church and placed in the back of a waiting car.

Mr Brown and his wife emerged soon afterwards with other family members and left for the private burial.

The family asked for the photograph of the baby on the order of service not to be published but agreed that some photographers could be present outside the church to represent the rest of media and their material would be made available to all. The Independent was selected by ballot to represent broadsheet newspapers.