Memorial service for Mikaeel

Hundreds of people flocked to a vigil and memorial service organised by the Church for three-year-old Mikaeel Kular at the weekend.

Local residents queued down the street in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, to secure places inside St Andrew’s Church. Almost 600 from every age group turned up at the building which seats 350 people. There was literally standing in the aisle and an estimated 120 people squeezed into an overflow room.

Television cameras broadcast the scene outside the church to homes across the UK. Youngsters emerged holding soft toys and cards for the dead boy. People carrying the remains of candles they been given in the church created a sea of light. They were asked to relight the candles at their homes on Sunday night at 7pm. Many came together to light them outside Mikaeel’s house. Balloons were also released in a nearby park.

Deacon Ann Lyall who the service with pastoral assistant at St Andrew’s Church, Helen Fisher, described it as “poignant,” especially given the number of youngsters attending with their parents, brothers and sisters.

Each person who attended the service was given a candle and prayer card with the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on it: “Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death.”

The service came about because two young people in the community with no known link to the church, called on Facebook for an event which would unite a heartbroken community after the news emerged that young Mikaeel was dead.

Miss Lyall said the boys initially considered a launch of Chinese lanterns but found this would not be possible as Muirhouse is on the flight path of Edinburgh Airport. A community activist who has worked with the church on a food bank then suggested a church service. After receiving the request at 8am on Saturday, Miss Lyall and Miss Fisher then worked frenetically with other supporters to organise a service at 7pm that evening. Publicity primarily on Facebook and Twitter is credited with attracting the crowds.

Miss Lyall said: “This has made people very much aware of the children in their own families. People have said how hard it is to imagine something happening to their children or grandchildren. What’s happened has really brought it home, what our children means to us all. The service was a chance for the whole community to come together and grieve together. Over the coming days, we see that changing to perhaps individuals wanting to talk to someone in an effort to understand what has happened. For those people who want to talk, we are here to listen, whenever.”

The toddler’s body was eventually found near his former home in Kirkcaldy, Fife.