Hundreds attend Mikaeel Kular memorial service
- 19 January 2014
- From the section Scotland
Hundreds of people have attended a memorial service for Mikaeel Kular, whose body is believed to have been found in Fife.
The service was held at Muirhouse St Andrew's Church in Edinburgh, less than a mile from Mikaeel's home, on Saturday evening.
Many local people helped in the search for the three-year-old, who was reported missing on Thursday morning.
His mother, Rosdeep Kular, 33, has been charged in connection with his death.
Men, women and children of all ages filled the 300-capacity church building and an overflow room which could hold another 80 people.
At the end of the service, they left carrying the remains of candles they had been holding.
Some people hugged each other and a Chinese lantern could be seen floating in the sky above the chapel.
Akeel Umar, who attended the service, said: "Everyone is touched and shocked by what's happened.
"Thousands of people came out searching yesterday and the day before.
"Today's really just as a mark of respect."
Nasim Azad, who also attended, added: "When you take everything away there's nothing between us.
"We are a community; we care. The fact that we're here today is because we care. It's as simple as that."
Deacon Helen Fisher, who led the service, said: "I think it was very important to have something that the people could focus on because there is a great feeling of loss, of what next, what to do? How can you make it better for yourself?
"Because you've been punched in the stomach almost with this news this morning and what do you do with that?"
She said it had been important to thank the people who had taken part in the searches.
"We've asked them [the congregation] to take these candles with them and for everyone to light them tomorrow (Sunday) night at seven o'clock," she added.
"We're asking them to think again tomorrow night that there are people preparing to send their children to school to hear the news."
Colin Keir, Edinburgh Western MSP, said recent events had shattered the whole area, but also galvanised a sense of community spirit.
He said: "The emotional attachment that the communities round here have had to this investigation has really brought them all together."
Speaking ahead of the service, Robert Pearson, chairman of the Tenants and Residents in Muirhouse Association (Trim), said: "I, like everyone else in north Edinburgh, will be saddened to learn that police have found the body of a child in the search for Mikaeel.
"Over the last few days this community, as well as people from all over the country, has come together to search for him.
"Whilst it can be easy for us to all to jump to conclusions about what has happened, we need to remain calm and allow the police to continue with their investigation."
Mr Pearson thanked search volunteers and local businesses who provided torches and food during the massive search operation.
He said: "Sometime it takes something like this to bring people together. I have seen older people, young people, families and teenagers all giving up their time to search the entire area over the past two days.
"On reflection, I and everyone at Trim are so proud of the community we all live in. Obviously as time went on we were all aware that the chances of a positive were diminishing but that never stopped us.
"People continued to turn up at all times of the day and night to help, and everyone who got involved should be so proud of themselves."
People have been leaving teddies and floral tributes on Dunvegan Avenue in Kirkcaldy, where a major police investigation is ongoing, as well as outside the Kular family home in Ferry Gait Crescent, Edinburgh.
Lisa Maxwell, 42, from nearby Skibo Place, laid flowers close to the Kirkcaldy bungalow at the centre of the police investigation.
The mother of two said: "I woke up today and my partner Stuart had a text saying the little boy had been found so I expected good news.
"But when I turned on the TV I realised it was not.
"When he was missing, and having young children myself, straight away I put myself in those shoes trying to imagine what it's like. I wanted to help, even though I'm not in the Edinburgh area."
Ms Maxwell's sons, aged 11 and four, joined their mother near the cordoned-off road where she offered hot refreshments to police and others at the scene.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is a tragic development in this harrowing story and the news that we have all been dreading. The hearts of everyone across Scotland and beyond have been touched by the events of recent days.
"We should at this difficult time remember the work of the officers of Police Scotland who have responded to this difficult task and investigation and shown such professionalism and dedication.
"Above all the efforts and solidarity of the local community in Edinburgh should be applauded. In the most tragic of circumstances they volunteered to make their very best efforts to help this young child."