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We're still astounded by all your generosity; WEEK OF FEATURES TO CELEBRATE APRIL'S LIFE... DAY ONE: HER FUND.

Byline: ALEX HICKEY

TODAY is the deadline for charities and groups to apply for cash help from the fund set up in memory of murdered schoolgirl April Jones.

This week the Daily Post is running a series of articles to mark the anniversary of April's disappearance. A year ago tomorrow, October 1, the five-year-old, from Machynlleth, left her home on the Bryn y Gog estate to play on her bike with friends.

She was never to be seen again despite Dyfed Powys Police spearheading the biggest missing person search in the history of UK policing.

The story of April's disappearance and the devastating impact it had on her family, especially parents Coral and Paul, left a community bereft.

It also sparked incredible displays of support for a family and a town in grief - from the thousands who took part in or supported the rescue effort to the thousands more across the globe who donated to a fund set up in April's memory.

April's Fund was initially set up by Machynlleth Town Council after people from all over the world began to send money to the council's base at Y Plas, to support the search, almost from the day it began.

The fund, now administered by a board of trustees, has collected well in excess of PS70,000, and donations are still being made.

The money will be split in three ways in accordance with the family's wishes, with a portion being donated to a local search and rescue organisation, a local charity that benefits children and to the family of April.

Today the Daily Post announces that it will join those who have supported the campaign by donating 10p from every West edition sold tomorrow to the April Jones Fund as a gesture of solidarity with our readers who so generously donated time, effort and money in the hunt to find April.

The chairman of the fund's trustees is The Rev Kathleen Rogers, Vicar of St Peter's Church, Machynlleth.

She has been blown away by the generosity shown to the fund and her local parish over the last 12 months.

"We have had donations from all over the world, I have personally received donations from America and they are still coming in. I can't put an exact amount on how much has been donated but it is somewhere in the region of PS72,000."

Rev Rogers still can't quite believe the figure that has been raised.

"The whole thing surprised us," she said: "Everyone has been taken aback by the generosity of people, not just those making donations to the fund but by all those who gave their time, or sent messages of support and love. I'm still getting letters from all over the world.

"People have this need to show their sympathy, love and send a prayer to us and it's been a huge, huge help."

As well as donations, money was raised at scores of fundraisers, from cake stalls and coffee morning to high profile charity events like an auction in December where shoes donated by Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones and singer Bonnie Tyler's diamante studded denim jacket helped raise more than PS4,000.

A star-studded football match, between a Machynlleth XI and a FAW XI, featuring former Welsh internationals John Hartson, Mickey Thomas Malcolm Allen and the national side's manager Chris Coleman, raised around PS3,500 in July.

Rev Rogers said a final decision on which charities would benefit from the fundraising efforts had yet to be made.

Over the past year charities and organisations had been invited to submit applications but the deadline to submit them ends today, although donations to the fund can still be made.

The trustees, who include town and county councillor Michael Williams and mayor Diana Lewis, will now decide where the money will be distributed and they are confident that they will do that by the end of the year.

Rev Rogers was at pains to highlight that no organisation has yet been picked - but there is one criteria that is non-negotiable: "They have to be local."

There has been no shortage of applications so the trustees are confident that the money will go to the right causes, she said.

. ? Donations should be sent to: April''''s Fund Trustees, Y Plas, Heol Pentrehedyn, Machynlleth, Powys SY20 8ER Mark Bridger, 47 from Ceinws, was jailed for life in May for abducting and murdering April but he has never revealed the whereabouts of her body.

alex.hickey@dailypost.co.uk

TOMORROW 10p FROM EVERY COPY OF WEST EDITION SOLD GOES TO FUND

CAPTION(S):

Chris Coleman with April's family at charity match

Rev Kathleen Rogers (left) has thanked those who gave to the April Jones fund. Top, April's funeral in Machynlleth last week: above, the search after her disappearance
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Sep 30, 2013
Words:796
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