Memorial mass held for Indian-origin nurse in UK

Jacintha Saldanha, the Indian-origin nurse, was found dead following a hoax call to a London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge.

London: A memorial mass in memory of Jacintha Saldanha, the Indian-origin nurse found dead following a hoax call to a London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge, has taken place at Bristol.

Jacintha Saldanha`s friends and family attended St Teresa`s Church in Bristol on Friday evening to honour her memory.

Her husband Benedict Barboza held the hands of his children Lisha, 14, and Junal, 16, as they entered the church. They had earlier been greeted by Father Tom Finnegan, who gave a comforting hug to Junal.

A picture of Jacintha was placed at the foot of the altar, surrounded by flowers.

Jacintha was a keen member of the church, and regularly attended two different churches in Bristol with her family.

Fr Tom spoke only briefly about the King Edward VII nurse, whose hanged body was discovered a week ago in London. He then invited members of the congregation to light a candle in memory of tragic Jacintha. The priest read out messages from her two children and husband.

Through Fr Tom, Junal and Lisha said: "We will miss your laughter and loving smile and memories we had together. The house is empty. We are shattered and there is an unfillable void in our lives. We love you mum."

Benedict, through the priest, said: "I love you and I will miss you forever."

The family did not speak after the hour-long service.

The service was being held as the body of the mother-of-two was flown back to India for her funeral. Meanwhile, a private memorial service was held on Friday at the King Edward VII`s Hospital where she worked.

Staff gathered at the London hospital to pay their respects to Saldanha, a mother-of-two from Bristol, who was found hanging in her nurses` quarters by a colleague and a security guard last Friday.

The nurse transferred the DJs, believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge during her hospital stay for severe pregnancy sickness.

"King Edward VII`s is a small hospital, with a tight-knit team. Everybody knew Jacintha, and we were all left deeply shocked by her tragic death following the hoax telephone call. Today`s service was a chance for everyone here to pay their respects and remember a dear colleague," John Lofthouse, chief executive at the hospital, said.

An inquest into her death yesterday heard that Saldanha left three suicide notes, with The Guardian reporting that one of the notes criticised staff at the hospital.

It is believed the nurse`s suicide note has left her grieving family furious, with husband Ben Barboza understood to want an inquiry into the hospital.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror about Saldanha`s suicide notes, a source close to the family said, "one of the letters, which is the longest, deals with the hospital and is critical in its tone.

"Needless to say, Ben wants a full inquiry into what happened and he wants to make sure the truth comes out. Within the letter, Jacintha calls into question some of the treatment she received at the hospital".

In another note, the mother-of two describes how she struggled to come to terms with the prank call by the two Australian DJs. The third and final letter is practical and deals with her funeral plans.

The body of the victim was discovered in her room in staff quarters last Friday. Two of the notes were found nearby and a third was among her possessions.

Saldanha had also sent a number of e-mails and made telephone calls that police believe might help explain what happened.

During a five-minute hearing at Westminster Coroner`s Court on Thursday, it was revealed that attempts were made to revive the nurse but they were "to no avail".

"Jacintha Saldanha was found by a colleague and a member of security staff. Sadly she was found hanging. There were also injuries to her wrist. The London Ambulance Service was called to the scene. At this time there are no suspicious circumstances," Detective Chief Inspector James Harman said.

Scotland Yard detectives are examining the notes, as well as interviewing Saldanha`s friends, family and colleagues at London`s King Edward VII hospital.

Saldanha, a night sister, was the senior nurse on duty when she took a call at 5.30 am on Tuesday from Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who were pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

She unwittingly transferred the call to a colleague, who described in detail the condition of Kate, who was being treated for severe morning sickness.

Harman told the hearing detectives had been in contact with colleagues in New South Wales and would be taking statements from those involved in the prank call.

The Indian-origin nurse`s accountant husband Ben Barboza, 49, identified her body. Coroner Fiona Wilcox opened and adjourned the inquest until March 26.

Saldanha, who was born in India, lived in London during the week and returned home to Bristol to be with her family at weekends. Barboza and children Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14, had been expecting her home for the weekend and were apparently unaware of her role in the hoax call.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has been representing the family, said they could expect the results of a post-mortem examination within four days.

"The family is very grateful to the coroner`s court for the way they have dealt with the matter and they are extremely grateful to the Metropolitan Police. As you know they are very upset and they are grieving and they are comforting each other," he said.

Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of Sydney-based 2Day FM which broadcast the hoax call, has ended Greig and Christian’s Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.

Last night, it was revealed Saldanha`s family have been offered bereavement counselling in their home city of Bristol by the King Edward VII hospital.

In a letter to John Lofthouse, the chief executive of the private hospital, Vaz says the family will take up this offer.


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