HUNDREDS of people packed a Dorset church to say farewell to a talented horsewoman who ‘lived life to the full’.

St Peter’s Church in Portesham was filled to overflowing with friends, family and well-wishers wanting to celebrate the life of Ella Jean Pallister, 17, from Portesham.

People lined the streets outside the church and filled the church garden. A PA system was set up to broadcast the service inside the church to everyone outside.

The sun shone down as everyone gathered at the church and Dorset Police closed the road to allow the funeral procession up to the church.

As a tribute to keen horsewoman Ella, the funeral cortege was led to the church by members of the hunt, their hounds and 30 riders – who stayed outside and listened to the service from atop their steeds.

The service started with Gabrielle Aplin’s ballad The Power of Love, before everyone was welcomed and prayers were said.

The congregation sang the hymn Abide with Me and a tribute and a poem to Ella were read. The poem said Ella is ‘Our shining little star’.

Other hymns sung were Jerusalem and Lord of All Hopefulness.

Harmonies from the Thomas Hardye School choir floated across the church garden.

The students sang two songs at the service – Make Me a Channel of Your Peace and Ave Verum.

Ella was a student at the school doing A-levels in PE and business as well as studying a BTEC in animal science at Kingston Maurward College.

The congregation was invited to light candles in the church in memory of Ella after the service.

A tribute from Ella’s family was read out. Her family described how Ella’s love of horses and ponies was with her from the very age she sat on her first horse at three months old.

At the age of two-and-three-quarters she entered the Bath and West Show on her little pony Lou Lou.

They said that ‘her horses were always her first love,’ although she was also a talented hockey player.

In the tribute her family told how much she loved attending the Olympia International Horse Show and shared special memories from her life.

The family said how much Ella enjoyed show jumping and hunting. The tribute said: “Ella lived life to the full.”

As the service ended the song You Raise Me Up was played and a hunting horn was sounded outside.

The funeral procession was led from the church by the hounds and horses.

A private service was then held at Weymouth Crematorium and afterwards friends and family gathered at the Kings Arms in Portesham.

Donations divided between causes

DONATIONS were collected in Ella’s memory.

They will be divided between Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and the Wessex Neurology Centre at Southampton Hospital.

People still wishing to donate can make cheques payable to Funeral Donations Account c/o Sam Wilding, Rose Funeral Service, 35 Shrubbery Lane, Wyke Regis, DT4 9LY.

Shock and grief of friends and family

THE death of the talented 17-year-old was met with grief and shock by friends, relatives, loved ones and the equestrian community.

Ella suffered fatal injuries while taking part in a British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) contest at Kingston Maurward College near Dorchester.

She was flown from the Dorset County Hospital to Southampton hospital by the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance but died of her injuries on Wednesday, January 30.