Frome dad's rallying call to support family of April Jones
A Frome father has been so touched by the death of five-year-old April Jones he wants other families to help him keep her memory alive.
Stuart Lange, of Lynfield Road, hopes families will come to his workshop on Manor Road to write messages of support to April's family.
He will then travel to Machynlleth, in Powys, Wales, by motorbike, with his friends, to deliver them in time for a balloon release planned to mark her sixth birthday.
Mr Lange said he followed the story of April when she vanished on October 1 last year.
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When the father-of-one spotted on Facebook that her parents, Coral and Paul, were planning a balloon release next Thursday, he decided to get in touch to see if he could help.
The trio exchanged a series of messages and soon after Mr Lange came up with the idea of getting Frome people to write messages of support on tags and then riding his motorcycle with many of his friends, a 420-mile round trip, to personally deliver them to her family.
Mr Lange travelled to Machynlleth on Monday to meet April's parents for the first time and said it was an emotional chat.
He said: "The reason I am doing this is because my own daughter, Sophie, is only a few weeks different in age and I felt compelled to do something.
"It was an emotional meeting but they were delighted that I was doing something – they were really down to earth, but it must be so difficult for them.
"At the moment ten of my friends are coming along and when I put it on Facebook telling other bikers what I was doing, I got a great response.
"I am hoping hundreds of bikers will come along to support the event and families will come to my business to sign messages of support for the family."
Mr Lange, who is a partner at TL Servicing and Repair Centre, has 100 tags that he hopes people will go along and write messages in the next week.
He said: "People are more than welcome to come to the business premises and write a message or I can deliver one to their home locally."
Mr Lange will set off with his friends at about 9.45am next Thursday morning and is inviting people to go along to give them a good send off on their long journey.
He said: "I've been overwhelmed by the support so far and I just hope people get behind us.
"I'd like to thank everyone who has helped, especially Apricot key cutters in the town centre who made up some pink high-visibility jackets for us to wear on our way.
"My daughter, Sophie, knows what I am doing and has even given me one of her teddy bears to give to April's parents."
A 47-year-old former lifeguard, Mark Bridger, has been charged with the murder of the five-year-old and is awaiting trial.