A CLOSE knit community turned out in force for an emotional and poignant memorial gathering to remember mum-of-two Lindsay Birbeck.

As a murder investigation continues into the death of the 47-year-old teaching assistant, hundreds of people, many of whom helped search for Lindsay when she was missing, took part in the short walk in the Coppice in Accrington.

The idea for a respectful walk to take place in Lindsay’s memory was requested by her family.

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It is thought close to 1,000 people attended the tribute.

Organisers said police advised those attending not to take part in the walk. It is believed this was because of the large numbers present.

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Some went home following the laying of flowers, but a few continued and did complete a short walk in the Coppice.

Susan Haworth, from Oswaldtwistle, said: "It's unbelievable this has happened here. I came to pay my respects, because the family must be going through a lot.

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"Everyone has helped out, the police have done an amazing job.

"The fact that so many people are here shows how popular she was and it's good to see everyone here tonight showing their support. We are together."

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Joanne Hothersall, of Annie Street, Accrington, added: "I kney Lindsay. She didn't live too far from me and my brother went to school with her.

"She was a lovely person, just a loving person.

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"It means everything to be here today and show my support for the family.

"It's just unbelievable that this could happen, I can't understand it.

"I'm glad I came. We need to show our support as a community. We would do this for anybody."

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A spokesman for Baxenden Running Group said: "As a local running group it's important for us to show our support here today.

"Lyndsay was a runner too and there are around 20 of us here today who could make it to show we are all grieving.

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"We just feel empathy as it could happen to anybodyand we wanted to pay our respects to a caring woman.

"People are afraid but the number of people here suggests we all came together to show we all care as a community."

Earlier today, Lindsay's teenage children paid tribute to their mum.

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Steven, 19, and Sarah, 16, described her as “a great mum and wife, much loved daughter, loving aunty and sister-in-law and a great friend”.

They said: “On behalf of the whole family we would like to thank every single person that has helped and supported us during the search for our mum – you are all aware now of the tragic circumstances and that she is no longer with us.

“Lindsay was a great mum and wife, much loved daughter, loving aunty and sister-in-law and a great friend too. She loved running, walking, camping and socialising with her small circle of friends.

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“Our mum always wanted the best for us and never let us down with anything."

A murder investigation was launched after Ms Birbeck’s body was found in Accrington Cemetery, nearly two weeks after she had been reported missing from home.

A post mortem examination showed that Lindsay died as a result of compression of the neck.

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