Hundreds of mourners gathered at St Mary’s Church, Wirksworth, today to bid farewell to murdered backpacker, 21 year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung.
An hour-long service, led by Canon David Truby, heard Mia’s mother, Rosie Ayliffe, pay tribute to a daughter she described as, ‘so annoying and so kind in equal measure’.
Rosie also paid her respects to the bravery of Tom Jackson, the 30 year-old man, from Congleton, Cheshire, who died days after coming to her aid when the Wirksworth girl was attacked by 29 year-old Smail Ayad in the backpacker hostel where Mia was staying in Queensland, Australia, at the time of her death.
She said: “We should try and remember the bravery of Tom Jackson - a bravery from which we can take great comfort in this hour of darkness.
“Tom barely knew Mia and yet he paid the ultimate price to try to save her. Such an act on the part of someone with no training is almost unheard of, I believe, and is a testament to his strength of character.
“Let his image be seared into your mind’s eye and overcome the uglier ones we have been exposed to.”
Rosie also spoke about the attack by Mr Ayad and references in the media to Islamic fundamentalism which have been sparked by his having said ‘God is great’ at the time.
“Know this,” said Rosie. “There is no religion on God’s earth that would instigate a brutal senseless act against an innocent young girl.
“Think instead, that somewhere there is a mother, a sister or an aunt that cannot grieve openly for fear of repercussions and who know must hide their heads in shame with no community to support them.”
The moving service also featured a reading from the Qur’an and a Buddhist ringing of the singing bowl ceremony followed by a chant, while the congregation heard live song performances of Hozier’s Take Me To Church and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
As mourners left the church, bells rang while they congregated outside to remember the much-loved Wirksworth girl.