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Hundreds flock to Gravesend Crematorium to remember murdered Molly McLaren

PUBLISHED: 14:40 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:13 22 August 2017

Molly McLaren

Molly McLaren

Archant

The 23-year-old student from Cobham was killed in a shopping centre car park in June

There was barely a black tie or skirt in sight at Gravesend Crematorium on Monday as hundreds flocked to remember the life of Molly McLaren.

The parents of the 23-year-old student from Cobham, who was murdered in a shopping centre car park on June 29, insisted they wanted mourners to wear as much colour as possible for the occasion.

And so - for a couple of hours that morning at least - the crematorium which overlooks the river became a kaleidoscope of colour beneath gloomy, overcast skies.

Mourners were encouraged to bring a photo of Miss McLaren as well as a flower from their garden.

More than two hundred people waited either side of the short, winding road leading up to the crematorium entrance, where the hearse carrying Miss McLaren’s body arrived at 11am.

Atop the coffin were flowers, and a replica Arsenal Football Club jersey, similar to the ones worn by many of her loved ones throughout the service.

A piper from Shorne played Flower of Scotland as she entered the chapel.

Father Doug McLaren told us: “I was born in Scotland and Molly was our flower of Scotland. She always wanted me to take her to see the Highlands and the Lochs.”

Such was the turnout, both chapels were opened up, with the service broadcast on screens in the crematorium’s waiting area as well, so that everybody could watch and listen to tributes from friends, family and colleagues.

Mourners were told how Miss McLaren, an exercise, sport and health education student at the University of Kent, where she achieved an “extremely rare” mark of 99 per cent in one of her exams, was “someone who was determined to make a difference to people’s lives, and invariably she did”.

Memories were recalled, tears shed and laughs shared during a slideshow of photographs, documenting Miss McLaren’s growth from small toddler to popular adult, set to a track, fittingly, titled Molly Smiles.

The service concluded with S Club 7’s Reach as mourners exited the chapel, laid their flowers, and added cash donations to the Molly McLaren Foundation set up in her honour, which at the start of the day had already raised more than £14,000.

Friends and family then made their way to The Leather Bottle pub where she once worked in her home village, and where staff described her as “a beautiful soul”.

Mr McLaren added: “All of the family were humbled by the numbers that attended and by the love and affection shown by all.

“We never realised how many friends Molly had. They all had such lovely things so say about Molly. It was so touching.”

Joshua Stimpson, 25 and of High Street in Wouldham, Rochester, was arrested at the scene of the incident at Dockside Outlet Centre in Chatham on suspicion of murder and charged the following day, June 30.

He was remanded in custody after appearing via video-link from Elmley Prison, Sheppey, at Maidstone Crown Court, and will next appear in court on September 18 to enter a plea.

A trial start date has been set for January 22.

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