Hundreds say fond farewell to Sheffield’s Gabrielle

Fond farewell: Hundreds of mourners gathered to say goodbye to  'beautiful and delightful' Gabrielle Smith.                                      picture: steve parkin
Fond farewell: Hundreds of mourners gathered to say goodbye to 'beautiful and delightful' Gabrielle Smith. picture: steve parkin
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IT WAS a party like no other as hundreds of mourners gathered to say goodbye to a ‘delightful and beautiful’ 12-year-old Sheffield schoolgirl.

The two-hour service for Gabrielle Smith (below) was filled with laughter, music, photos and even some of Gabi’s favourite youtube video clips.

Bowls of chocolates and sweets were also present at the funeral of the ‘little sweet tooth’ yesterday, who was described by her mum Faye, as ‘fearless, delightful and beautiful’.

Gabi – a pupil at Notre Dame High School – drowned in the bath in her Sheffield home, on Saturday, March 16, after suffering an apparent seizure.

She was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital – where she one day hoped to work as a doctor – but could not be saved.

At her family’s request, sombre attire was swapped for bright colours at yesterday’s funeral. A sea of pink, purple, blue and green was waiting to greet the wicker coffin as it arrived at All Saints’ Parish Church, Ecclesfield, adorned with yellow and cream Easter flowers.

Gabi was led in through ‘a corridor of love’ at her mum’s request, as family and friends gathered inside the door to escort her to the front.

Her favourite song, Taylor Swift’s Love Story, was playing as her brother Zach helped carry her coffin through the sea of mourners.

Mum Faye followed closely behind, clutching Gabi’s beloved stuffed rabbit, Flopsy, and holding a paper crown above her head for her ‘little princess’.

In a moving 30-minute eulogy, Faye and 16-year-old Zach spoke affectionately of their ‘kind, funny little drama queen’ – and both promised to ‘eat as many sweets and ice creams as they could’ in her honour.

They talked about her love for history and science, her passion for fashion, her enthusiasm for scary rides and rock climbing and quietly remembered their final family movie night on the Friday before her death.

Faye ended by urging every parent in the room to ‘hug and kiss your children every single day.’

Gabi’s best friend, Rebekah Walton, who was sleeping over at her house the day she died and was the first to raise the alarm, also paid tribute to her friend, saying: “She was like my sister. We loved to dress up, paint our nails, eat sweets, play games and have sleepovers.

“I’m sure she’s happy up there in heaven and I will miss her every day.”

Her friends – described by Zach as ‘the loves of her life’ – performed one of many musical tributes in her honour, singing the hymn Be My Everything.

As the service came to a close, Faye said: “Zach and I have the hardest task ahead of us now. Our faith, and the belief we will see Gabi again someday, is the only thing getting us through. Her death, although a tragedy, is just the interval in the theatre of life.”

Zach said: “Her kindness and happiness is what I will remember most about my little sister.

“I know she’s waiting in heaven now with her daddy.”

Her father died in 2011 and was buried two years ago to the day in the same churchyard. After the service, family and friends released yellow balloons at a private interment in the graveyard.