1st October 2012 marks the tragic day that five year old April Jones disappeared from a local park in the village of Machynlleth, Wales. Last seen talking to a male with a Land Rover, in the wake of April’s disappearance, Mark Bridger, 46 and locally known to the family of April Jones, has been charged with abduction, murder and the unlawful concealment and disposal of a body. Since news of April’s abduction was spread, the community of Machynlleth have made it their ambition to assist in every way possible and provide the strongest methods of support to the Jones’ family – it appears that such a tragedy has not only united the community of Machynlleth, but called for the rallying of its people in such a difficult time.
The abduction of April Jones, who suffered from cerebral palsy, sparked a national search operation across Wales. The people of Machynlleth took it upon their selves to join in with the search – hundreds of villagers spent all day and night looking in all areas of the town of Pawys in the hunt for April Jones, watched by the media and the nation in their dedication towards finding April and returning her home safely. Craig Evans, a village of Machynlleth, described how he ‘felt guilty sitting at home doing nothing’, prompting him to join in with the search mission. The police situated a ‘reactive team of specialists’ in order to react to any additional news on the disappearance. Within hours of April’s disappearance, a ‘Help Find April Jones’ Facebook group had over 5000 members.
The dedication of the police and the people of Machynlleth has not gone unnoticed; The Co-Operative presented Mayor Gareth Jones with their first Robert Owen award, an award that recognized outstanding contribution within the community. Mayor Gareth Jones said his thanks to ‘the hundreds of volunteers who searched tirelessly for days on end’, and praised his town for ‘set[ting] an example of community spirit, unity and solidarity which others aspire to emulate’. A fund titled ‘April’s Fund’ has raised over £61,000 in donations, with contributions from Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones and Bonnie Tyler.
The image of a pink ribbon can be seen as symbolic to the disappearance of April Jones, inspired from the yellow ribbons that were used for a symbol of hope in the abduction of Madeline McCann. The area of Machynlleth was decorated with pink ribbons, April’s favourite colour, shown as a symbol of hope that she would return safely to her parents. The ribbons stemmed across the village from the home that April shared with her family, to the local church. Services within churches were held for those who wished to pray for April, and the doors of the local churches were left open overnight. The ‘pink for April’ initiative certainly embodied the united spirit of the Machynlleth community. Coral Jones held celebrations for the sixth birthday of April by releasing hundreds of pink balloons from her house, deeming it a ‘show of solidarity’.
The tragic disappearance of April is one that will remain etched within the memories of the nation eternally; as the court case of Mark Bridger continues, it is hoped that he will be brought to justice to allow the Jones’ family the closure they deserve, a closure that will ultimately be sought in the discovery of the whereabouts of her body, so that a funeral can be conducted. With continued donations towards the ‘April fund’, it will help others and give hope to many families that have missing relatives, and will raise awareness of the issues surrounding cerebral palsy.