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Friends of schoolgirl killed in coach crash gather for her funeral

by Ros Mayfield

A schoolgirl with a passion for climbing has been remembered by friends and family at her funeral.

15 yr old Jessica Baker was killed along with driver Stephen Shrimpton, 40, when a school coach overturned on the M53 near junction five at Hooton, Cheshire, on 29th September.

Bishop Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury joined mourners at the family's church in Chester, and said that "human words are inadequate" in such a tragedy, but that it was a moment to stand together with the family, in faith:

"We look to where our hope is placed in that tragedy of the Cross, which became our victory over death, and the assurance of that love which went to the end for us, in which our hope is placed."

Mourners, filled St Theresa's Catholic Church in Blacon, Chester, and the service was also watched via video link into the school next door, for those who could not fit in.

Pictures of Jessica, who had represented the North West and Wales in climbing competitions across the UK, were included in the order of service.

Her parents and sister Rebecca spoke at the service.  Her headteacher Simeon Clarke was among the mourners, and tributes were paid by her high school and climbing club.

Bishop Mark said had come to remember Jessica, with so many people across the country, "to assure Sarah and Sean and the family, that they too have a place in our prayers and thoughts... that they are not alone in their grief, and also not alone in their hope, as we come together, to look forward with them, in the hope that the bonds between us are not broken by death."

Her family said Jessica loved all sports but "her overriding passion" was for both indoor and outdoor climbing.  They said she was often seen offering support to fellow climbers on how to achieve a problem/route they were trying to complete.

A total of 58 children were involved in the crash, which happened on the way to school in Wirral, Merseyside.

Four other children needed hospital treatment, including a 14-year-old boy whose injuries were said to be "life-changing".

An inquest which opened earlier this month heard that the driver had suffered an "event" at the wheel and was seen to "slump to the left" as the vehicle left the carriageway.

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