Goodbye Ellen

Flowers and messages for Ellen
Flowers and messages for Ellen

The funeral has been taking place of murdered Wigan student Ellen Higginbottom.

Grieving family and friends gathered to say a final farewell to murdered college student Ellen Higginbottom at her funeral yesterday.

Ellen Higginbottom

Ellen Higginbottom

Around 150 people packed into Altrincham Crematorium, with some standing in the corridor outside the chapel to listen to the service.

The 18-year-old Winstanley College student whose body was found in Orrell Water Park last month arrived in a wicker coffin bearing several sunflowers and a simple bouquet on top.

The beautiful yellow flowers also adorned the order of service and the hearse carried more brightly-coloured blooms.

Led by celebrant minister Vincent Davies, the hour-long service was put together as a celebration of popular Ellen’s life and talents.

The funeral of 18-year-old murder victim, Ellen Higginbottom, who was murdered at Orrell Water Park. The celebration of life was held at Altrincham Crematorium.

The funeral of 18-year-old murder victim, Ellen Higginbottom, who was murdered at Orrell Water Park. The celebration of life was held at Altrincham Crematorium.

The coffin entered the chapel to a piece of music called Hvild, which means Rest, and the service finished with Over The Rainbow by Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiw’ole.

Mourners also remembered Ellen’s own creative abilities with an interlude called Warwick Avenue and there were also words of comfort, a poem called Endless and a tribute from her family.

The Lord’s Prayer was also read out and Tom Waits’ song Old 55 played for a period of reflection during the service.

Dozens of her classmates and fellow students from the college travelled to the crematorium to pay their respects alongside her relatives and others who had known her during her all-too-short life, including her boyfriend Ryan Warren.

Heartbreaking tributes were placed on some of the flowers with bouquets coming from far and wide, one being sent by employees of Somerset County Council.

One message read: “Ellen, you will continue to inspire me everyday. Nothing could ever take away our happy memories.”

Another said: “In loving memory of a special girl, Ellen, who will forever be in our thoughts.”

Paying tribute shortly after her tragic death, her family had spoken about her enthusiasm for studying psychology and the energy she had thrown in to her A-levels, her love of animals and their camping trips. A moving Facebook post from Ryan spoke of her kind, gentle nature.

Her parents also asked anyone who knew Ellen to take a few moments and plant a tree, bush or flowers in memory of their daughter.

The discovery of Ellen’s body in a secluded spot at the Orrell beauty spot shocked the entire borough and put the town at the centre of a massive murder probe.

Ellen was discovered at around 2.30am on Saturday June 17. She had been reported missing after failing to return from college the day before.

Mark Steven Buckley, 51, is currently remanded in custody on suspicion of Ellen’s murder.

He appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court last month and then at Crown Square in Manchester just 24 hours later.

The judge ordered him to remain behind bars until a further hearing on September 4, with a two-week trial tentatively slated to start in mid-December.
Buckley, from Preston, has yet to enter a plea to the murder charge.

David Steele, 47, of Oakley Avenue in Billinge, is charged with perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods. He is also yet to plead and is remanded in custody awaiting his next appearance the same day as Buckley.

Dean Speakman and his partner Vicki Calland, both 30 and from Cob Moor Avenue, Billinge, have pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods and will be sentenced at a later date.