New Addington tells Tia Sharp family: 'We will always be here for you'

6:30am Wednesday 15th May 2013

By Chris Baynes

Community leaders who last year spearheaded residents' huge collective effort to help find Tia Sharp have told her family "we will always be here for you."

Members of the New Addington Pathfinders (NAP) group, which distributed over 20,000 leaflets following Tia's disappearance on August 3, urged the community to pull together again as Stuart Hazell's trial rekindled memories of the desperate seven-day search.

The group - led by Marion Burchell, Kirsty Pearce and Paul Wellecomme - acted as a base for the community's efforts, printing posters, organising search parties and channelling police messages.

This week they welcomed Hazell's imprisonment, but warned the wounds of Tia's tragic death may never fully heal.

Your Local Guardian:

Mourners leave flowers at The Lindens, New Addington following Tia Sharp's death

Ms Burchell said: "The feeling we are getting is that everybody is pleased and relieved for the family that it is over - as much it can be. 

"It is never going to be over completely for them because they lost their baby.

"But there was a feeling that everyone was waiting for this trial to happen and hopefully now some of that stress and tension will be lifted."

She added: "Last year the community came together really strong and we will do that again. If the family want us to do anything for them then we will.

"That's what we are - a really strong community."

Your Local Guardian:

Tia's mother Natalie and her boyfriend David Niles after her disappearance

Residents queued up outside NAP's Central Parade office to offer help during the search, while local businesses offered to print posters for free.

One woman travelled from as far as Winchester to pick up leaflets to distribute, telling NAP she felt helpless watching the search reported on the news.

Ms Pearce said: "I'm glad we did what we did. It was a whole community response and it would have gone the way it did even if we weren't here. I am proud to live here."

Your Local Guardian:

Kirsty Pearce, Marion Burchell and Paul Wellecomme (L-R) at New Addington Pathfinders' headquarters

New Addington councillor Tony Pearson praised community's resilience and solidarity during Hazell's trial.

He said locals were feeling both relief and anger as Hazell was jailed for a minimum of 38 years today.

Councillor Pearson said: "This hurt the community. This happened on our own doorstep but it was important that people pulled together."

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