Norfolk woman who used to live near the village where April Jones was abducted gives an insight into the local community

PUBLISHED: 14:56 04 October 2012

Shan Ellis. Picture: Ian Burt

Shan Ellis. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Norfolk trainee journalist Shan Ellis used to live about 30 miles from the village where little April Jones was abducted, Here Shan - who now lives near Fakenham - gives a personal insight into what the community will be going through

April Jones, a name the British public will aware of since Monday evening, a five year old girl missing, 30 miles away from where I lived with my young children only a year ago.

Listening to Radio Two news on the First Capital direct from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn late on Monday evening, this was the first I’d heard of her abduction. Most shocking was the realisation that this had happened so closed to what I still call “home”.

Machynlleth is a small market town nestled between the mountains of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. It has a population of around 2,500 people, and truth be told, nothing big ever happens there. There is a farmers market once a week, a livestock auction once a month. Once a year there is an enormous jazz festival which doubles Machynlleth’s population for a weekend.

It is a town where people know each other, neighbouring farmers meet over a pint in the local to discuss falling livestock prices, mothers stop on the street to share schoolyard experiences, not unlike larger villages in Norfolk. The sense of community, and pride in tradition is very strong. The Welsh language and chapels still play a big part in binding the community. People know who lives where and can probably tell you tales of their ancestry back several generations.

April disappeared from her estate Bryn-y-Gog (Cuckoo’s hill) at 7pm on Monday evening, where she was playing with her friends. Some people may well ask what a five year old was doing playing without supervision. She was taken from her street, right outside her home in a very rural area, surrounded by watchful neighbours and could be seen by her mother from the front room window.

From knowing the area quite intimately, the people there although in shock will be rallying together. Dyfed Powys police force will definitely be striving to staff the operation, as the main crime in Machynlleth and surrounding areas is theft, and disturbing the peace. Thus far 400 people in surrounding areas have volunteered their local knowledge to try and help locate her.

As eternal optimists the Welsh community will be hoping to bring April home, safe and soon. As a Welsh-girl out of Wales, my hopes and prayers are currently homeward bound.

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