Hundreds gather to say goodbye to four friends who were 'typical teenagers' loved and admired and ambitious for their futures.
More than a thousand mourners gathered to say goodbye to the four teenage school friends who died in a horrific car crash. The funerals of 15-year-old Danielle Caswell and 16-year-old Louise Jones took place at Christ Church in Ebbw Vale, the girls' home town. Later there was another service for Kayleigh Parry, 16, and Katie Roberts, 15. They died when the car they were travelling in left a mountain road near Ebbw Vale on November 3. Around 600 family and friends had filled the church an hour before the first service began.
Hundreds more gathered outside to listen to the service via a speaker system.
The Rev Jackie Carter, a regular visitor at the girls' school, Glyncoed Comprehensive, paid tribute to two young women who shared a talent for drama.
Of Danielle, Ms Carter said, 'From the moment she was born there was something special about Danielle. She was a happy, contented baby who grew into a very sensitive child with a vivid imagination, happy to play on her own.
'Danielle loved soft toys and as a toddler on a visit to Toys R Us she chose a doll, Tiny Baby, much bigger than her at the time, which she outgrew but always cherished.
'Alf, an alien, her special toy went with her wherever she went as did her imaginary friend Bennett.'
She added, 'As Danielle was growing up she also developed a talent and love of dancing and drama, at one time with Mirror Image Dancers. She was also good at gymnastics and was a member of the Heads of the Valley Swimming Club.
'She also had a reputation for 'blonde moments' - you all know what I mean, she was always falling down, she would trip over anything however large or small.'
Of Louise, Ms Carter said, 'She was the sort of young person that filled the room. She had that incredible stage presence that said, 'Hey, here I am'.
'Her love of singing and drama led her to become a member of the Blaenau Gwent Young Stars and Ebbw Vale Operatic Society.
'Louise was one of those people who could not only sing and perform well and in any situation, but also had a rare understanding of people. She never saw age as a barrier, but responded to people.'
Ms Carter added, 'Louise's ambition was to become a doctor, but she loved singing so much that she wanted to have a recording career and only recently started to have her voice trained.
'Danielle was also ambitious and wanted to do well at school.'
She told mourners, 'I have to be honest, I cannot do justice to either Danielle or Louise as I have only slightly touched on their lives. I have been upstaged by the young people at school, with their tributes so lovingly placed at the school gates and a website dedicated to the girls.'
Pupils and teachers from both Glyncoed and Ebbw Vale Comprehensive Schools attended the funerals, as well as staff from a number of local primary schools.
Head teacher of Glyncoed Comprehensive, Colin James, read the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 13 verses four to eight.
Dignitaries including Blaenau Gwent MP Dai Davies and Assembly member Trish Law, plus senior representatives from both Gwent and Dyfed-Powys Police, who are investigating the crash, also attended.
It started to rain as the girls' white coffins, topped with white flowers and photographs, were carried out of the church to the song You Raise Me Up by Westlife.
Cremation followed at Gwent Crematorium, in Cwmbran.
Later hundreds of people gathered once again, despite heavy rain, outside the full-to-capacity church for the funerals of Katie Roberts and Kayleigh Parry.
The hymns All Things Bright and Beautiful and Sing A Song were sung by the large congregation.
Mourners heard the pair were very close and had been firm friends since primary school.
Ms Carter said, 'Katie as a child was always full of life and lived life to the full, always smiling, singing and dancing; the neighbours used to smile as they watched her standing before the mirror using a brush for a microphone.
'One of Katie's hobbies was collecting sheep in all shapes and sizes, and every time in the future her friends see a sheep, they will remember Katie with a smile, but her main love was dancing and singing.
'There was the one time when Katie broke her arm skating but that did not stop her and although it was still in plaster she continued to dance in one of the shows, with her arm in a pink plaster cast.'
Ms Carter added, 'Katie was admired by her young cousins who thought she was beautiful and she would never leave the house unless she was immaculately dressed. She loved shoes and had a pair for every outfit.'
In a warm tribute to Kayleigh, Ms Carter said the teenager had ambitions to go to university and become a French teacher. She added, 'Both Katie and Kayleigh come from very close, loving, caring families, and were simply typical teenagers loved and admired by all who came into contact with them.' After the church service, family and close friends attended a service at a local crematorium. A 17-year-old boy arrested on suspicious of causing death by dangerous driving has been released until the new year by Dyfed-Powys Police pending further inquiries.