Parents pay tribute to ‘cheerful’ April and call for campaign action

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:23 07 July 2015

Garry, Wendy and April Reeves during a family day out in Dunster

Garry, Wendy and April Reeves during a family day out in Dunster

Archant

THE parents of seven-year-old April Reeves, who died in a tragic accident in Locking, say her death will ‘not be in vain’ as they pay tribute to their ‘strong-willed’ daughter who was ‘full of beans’.

April during a day at home with her mum, WendyApril during a day at home with her mum, Wendy

April died at the end of May while cycling alongside the A371 with her mother and 10-year-old brother, prompting a huge community campaign to reduce the road’s speed limit.

April’s parents Garry and Wendy this week spoke exclusively to the Mercury to pay tribute to their daughter, thank the community for supporting the grieving family, and to reinforce their dedication to the campaign.

The couple moved into Flowerdown Park in 2001 and when April was born six years later on November 5 she soon became part of Locking life.

Garry said: “April was just fantastic, full of beans. She would be up at 4.30am talking to her mum before she went to work – she lived life to the full.

“She always seemed to get what she wanted. She is going to be so badly missed it’s unbelievable. She will be missed by us and the whole community – she knew everybody.”

April suffered from ear and stomach problems and was in and out of hospital from a young age, but did not let it get her down.

Her parents said: “Whenever April was ill she always remained her happy, cheerful little self and was never miserable.”

April enjoyed ballet and tap dancing, and loved to copy dance routines from music videos. She also taught herself to rollerblade and refused to give up until she had mastered the sport.

Wendy said: “She was full of life, she was always trying to cram everything in to one day. She was a very strong-willed character.”

April’s funeral was held on Friday at Weston Crematorium, and Garry said: “The vicar gave a fantastic service, he did everything we asked him to do.”

A wake was held in the Coach House in Locking, which was decked out in a Frozen theme in April’s honour.

April’s death on May 28 prompted hundreds of campaigners to walk along the busy road wearing April’s favourite colour, pink, to call for new safety measures and a reduction in the speed limit.

The A371 is the main route linking Weston with Locking, the new Parklands development, Banwell and villages such as Winscombe and Sandford.

The current speed limit is 60mph but several petitions have been set up calling for traffic lights, a roundabout or a reduced speed limit on the Locking Parklands entrance.

Mr Reeves said: “Massive thanks to Amy Sewell and Rebecca Bickley who set up the walk, which went really well. We are grateful for them setting up the campaign and we hope it keeps going.

“We will be more involved now we have done all we have had to do, so we will be pressuring the council with them.

“We need to keep the wheels of the campaign rolling, we don’t want to let April die in vain. We want something to be done in 12 months, not 10 years’ time.

“We also can’t thank Nicola Harding enough for setting up the Support The Reeves Family campaign, which was totally out of the blue, and Laura Wainwright for her help.”

As well as the campaign leaders, the couple voiced gratitude to Locking Primary School, which April attended, funeral directors H Pitman and Son, and Yeo Valley, where they both work.

Mr Reeves said: “We just want to say to our family and friends, thank you for all your support – we couldn’t have got through it without you.

“And all of our neighbours in Flowerdown Park – we have had so many meals made for us – they have been absolutely fantastic.

“The day after April died they kept all the children inside as a mark of respect. We didn’t know at the time, we just asked that they didn’t come to the door asking for April, but the parents kept them inside and explained what happened, it was a really nice thing to do. It was overwhelming.

“We want to say a big thank you to everyone who wore pink and donated to the charities. We had people as far as Egypt, Spain, America and Canada wearing pink, that’s how far the campaign got to.”

Although the Reeves family are not able to talk about the circumstances of April’s death until the police investigation is over, they said: “The ambulance, police, all the rescue services that day did a fantastic job and did what they could. And we would like to thank all the people who stopped at the roadside to help.”

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