MOVING tributes and farewells were paid to a “dedicated and compassionate” trainee teacher from Newport yesterday.
Hundreds gathered at St Peter’s Church, Llandevaud and the nearby Llandevaud Hall, for the funeral of 21-year-old trainee teacher Rhiannon Smith, who died last month.
The former Caerleon Comprehensive School pupil died from injuries sustained in a car accident on the A48.
Friends and family took it in turns to pay their respects at the service, which was led by Reverend John Waters.
He said that it would “celebrate” Miss Smith’s life, one that was “cut short by tragedy”.
“She was enthusiastic, dynamic and motivated and encouraged children with the values of education,” he added.
Hymns in the service included ‘Morning has broken’, ‘How great thou art!’ and ‘’Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer’.
Miss Smith’s grandfather, Mike, read a passage from the Bible, before her mother, Gill, described her daughter as having a “powerful presence”.
“Rhiannon set up a messaging account between us called ‘the unit’, and it was perfect,” said Mrs Smith.
"She was the organiser for the family, and she was wise beyond her years.
She loved more than anything to make people happy, to make them feel special.”
Mrs Smith, also said her daughter had a passion for cooking, and had dreamt of opening a bakery if her teaching career “hadn’t taken off”.
The Cardiff University graduate was completing her PGCE at the University of Gloucestershire when she passed away.
“If she wanted something badly enough she would make it happen,” Mrs Smith added.
“She always had the courage of her convictions.”
Miss Smith’s sister Sophie told those gathered that while the two had “entirely different” personalities, they remained “in sync” with one another.
Matt Foster, Miss Smith’s boyfriend, spoke about how they had met in the early weeks of their time together at university.
“I remember thinking ‘wow, just wow, this girl was unbelievably beautiful’,” he said.
“And that smile, I think everyone here has seen it. It was infectious.
“She was always happy, so joyful and really did love life.
“She was the greatest person I’ve ever met.”
Helena Parkes, Miss Smith’s closest friend, said she considered her as her “soulmate”.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the Argus, her father, Julian, spoke of his heartbreaking grief at her death.
“The pain and anguish is unbearable,” he said. “Your chest aches, your stomach churns, your head aches, not just briefly, continuously.”
The remainder of yesterday’s service took place at Gwent Crematorium.
A JustGiving page has been set up in her memory, with the funds to go to various causes including research into brain injuries and supporting schools and student teachers
It has raised more than £3,200 toward its £5,000 target.