The family of Tia Sharp will be united in grief today as they lay the schoolgirl to rest.
Hundreds are expected to turn out this morning to pay their respects on Tia school, found dead in a New Addington loft on August 10.
The funeral procession is expected to travel down Bushey Road past Raynes Park High School, where she attended, before progressing to Garth Road Crematorium, by Merton and Sutton Joint Cemetery, for a private service. Family have asked those wishing to turn out on the streets to see the procession to dress in a black and pink theme.
Tia’s father Steven Carter, said: "To be honest it is very hard to take in, I never expected anything like this. It feels like I have been shot. The main feeling is probably anger, but I know the process will go on through the funeral and trial and I must keep it together."
Tia's body was finally released this week to allow her family to lay her to rest, after a first post mortem failed to identify her cause of death, and defence counsel for Stuart Hazell, charged with her murder, ordered a re-examination.
Mr Carter, who last saw his daughter five years ago on a family holiday to The Isle of Sheppey, said: "I have been thinking back on the good times, watching her as she grew up."
He revealed Tia was actually born in the home in The Lindens, New Addington where her body was found, and he and Natalie Sharp, her mother, lived there for more than a year before their relationship broke down.
Speaking about the funeral, he said: "It is Natalie’s arrangements and she has asked we come dressed in black and pink."
"I still just can’t get used to the idea I am never going to see Tia grow up – there are so many things I don’t know – who was her best friend, her favourite colour, her favourite food."
Stuart Hazell is next due to appear at the Old Bailey in November charged with murder.