April Jones' mother thanks people of Machynlleth at charity match

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Media captionThe Wales team included a host of former internationals

The mother of murdered April Jones has thanked people for their support at a charity football match to raise money in her daughter's memory.

Wales football manager Chris Coleman and a host of other former soccer stars played in April's home town of Machynlleth, Powys.

The five-year-old's mother Coral addressed the players and the crowd before Tuesday night's game.

Mark Bridger was jailed for life for April's murder and abduction in May.

She went missing on 1 October last year near her home sparking the biggest search in UK police history.

Her remains have never been found.

Image caption April Jones went missing on 1 October 2012

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) team took on a local side made up of former and current Machynlleth FC players and a crowd of more than 700 watched the game.

The Machynlleth team played in pink, said to be April's favourite colour, and won the match 6-2.

Before kick-off both sets of players formed a guard of honour for April's parents as they walked onto the pitch.

April's mother Coral thanked the players and the people of Machynlleth for their support following April's disappearance, while Coleman presented Mrs Jones with a bouquet of flowers.

Speaking ahead of the match, Coleman said: "We're here for April - a special young lady - and for her family.

"We've all come here to have a little game of football and try as best we can to put some smiles on some people's faces who've been through a hell of a lot."

Coleman was joined by a number of former professionals including ex-Arsenal and West Ham striker John Hartson, ex-Newcastle United winger Malcolm Allen, former Manchester United, Chelsea and Wrexham winger Mickey Thomas and Andy Legg, a popular player for both Cardiff and Swansea.

Speaking before the match Mickey Thomas said he hoped the game would do some good.

"It's very sad what happened and we're trying to do something good for the town and make a few bob for April's Fund," said Thomas, who has 51 Welsh caps.

"It's a very good cause and we're showing support for April's parents who will be coming onto the pitch before the match."


FAW spokesman Ian Gwyn Hughes said the idea of a charity match came up when Wales played Scotland in a World Cup qualifying game in Cardiff last October, shortly after April went missing.

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Media captionChris Coleman spoke to Jason Mohammad on his BBC Radio Wales show

"Everybody was touched by what happened, and it's a small way for Welsh football to offer support," said Mr Hughes.

Machynlleth town and county councillor Michael Williams thanked the FAW.

"I'd like to thank the Central Wales FA, the FAW and Machynlleth FC for staging this match and I'm sure it will do a great deal to lift spirits in the town," he said.

April's Fund was set up in the wake of the five-year-old's disappearance and has raised more than £73,000 so far.

Match organiser Ed Holt said it was likely to be the final big event before the appeal fund closed on 30 September.

The game was followed by a question and answer session, a raffle and an auction in Machynlleth's clubhouse.

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