Emotional tributes mount for popular student Ellen

Flowers and tributes at Orrell Water Park
Flowers and tributes at Orrell Water Park

The shocking death of teenage college student Ellen Higginbottom has prompted an outpouring of grief.

Stunned Wiganers, including grieving friends, laid flowers yesterday in memory of the 18-year-old at Orrell Water Park where her body was found.

The line of floral tributes along Greenslate Road included emotional messages from friends and fellow students at Winstanley College and expressions of grief from the emergency services.

A heavy police presence remained in place around the scene at the secluded spot.

Two men, a 47-year-old from Billinge and a 51-year-old from Preston, were still being questioned by detectives last night after being arrested on suspicion of murder.

A police cordon was set up on New Hall Lane in Preston on Monday while a property was searched.

Ellen was a wonderful young woman with a large personality

Winstanley College spokesman

Early on Tuesday police announced two further arrests - a man and a woman, both aged 30, had been detained in the Wigan area the previous night on suspicion of assisting an offender. They too remain in police custody for questioning.

Winstanley College created a wall of condolence for flowers, which will later be transferred to the water park, and also paid tribute to Ellen.

A spokesman said: “Ellen was a wonderful young woman with a large personality.

“She was popular with all sorts of people in all sorts of areas of college. As a singing scientist, Ellen took part in a number of college performances, most notably at the Wigan Youth Zone. She represented her class mates at student and college managers’ meetings and on college open evenings she was so enthusiastic and chatty even our most shy visitors warmed to her.

Ellen Higginbottom, 18

Ellen Higginbottom, 18

“She had a large circle of friends who were devoted to her. It is impossible to put into words how deeply she will be missed by them and by the whole Winstanley family.”

Many people laying flowers could not hold back the tears thinking of her violent death, which has stunned the borough. A message from Ally attached to a bouquet of blooms read: “I can’t even put into words how I feel. You were the loveliest person on Earth and you didn’t have a bad bone in your body.”

The tribute went on to recall a trip to Liverpool University before finishing: “I love you so much, keep on singing.”

Another message read simply: “Taken too soon. RIP Ellen. Wigan Paramedics.”

Speaking after the second man had been arrested on Monay morning, Det Supt Howard Millington from GMP’s major incident team said: “It is unimaginable what Ellen’s family and friends must be going through right now, and my thoughts continue to be with them throughout all of this.

“I wish to again thank the public for their help in this investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 9908, call 101 or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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