The family of a 16-year-old girl stabbed to death on a bus say they have been "overwhelmed" by the support of well-wishers.

Christina Edkins was killed by a stab wound to the chest as she was on a bus making her way to school on Thursday 7 March.

christina edkins funeral

Christina Edkins was described by her school principal Neil Shaw as 'an inspiration'

Her funeral was being held on Friday at Birmingham Cathedral.

Speaking before the service on behalf of Christina's family, her cousin Stephen Newby said: "Today we will say goodbye to Christina.

"We are devastated that she should have been taken away so senselessly and continue to try to come to terms with what has happened.

"We have been overwhelmed and comforted by the spontaneous reactions of so many people. While many of them never knew Christina, all have been touched in some way by this tragic event and share in our grief."

Stephen added: "We would like to thank everybody for their support and kindness, in particular the local groups whose efforts have been so meaningful to us.

"The determination and support of the police has been invaluable at this very difficult time and we would like to thank all of the officers involved.

"We hope that justice will be done and that Christina can be allowed to rest peacefully."

Phillip Simelane, 22, of Walsall, has been charged with murdering Christina, and remains in custody to appear at Birmingham Crown Court for a plea hearing on 31 May.

The teenager's silver coffin was taken to the cathedral in a white carriage, pulled by a pair of white horses.

Christina's parents Jason and Kathleen led her family into the 300-year-old building which was packed with those wanting to pay their respects.

Despite the icy chill about 300 mourners stood outside to pay their respects, while inside the service was attended by 600 family and friends.

Among them were 120 pupils from Leasowes High School, which Christina attended in Halesowen, and colleagues from the Tesco supermarket where she worked part-time.

There were tearful tributes to Christina including from her school principal Neil Shaw who called her "an inspiration".

He said Christina was "charming, fun-loving, hard-working and caring" and always aspired to be a nurse.

"If schools could choose their students, they would be full of pupils like Christina."

Mr Shaw said Christina was "a great friend to many" and showed her nurturing side working with youngsters in a nursery, during an internship.

He also paid tribute to the "strength" and resilience her friends had shown in dealing with her death, breaking the "popular myth" that all young people nowadays could not measure up to those in years past.

"I can tell you first-hand that they have shown strength and compassion in coming to terms with the death of their wonderful Christina."

Keith Rammell, Christina's godfather, also paid emotional tribute and said his only wish was to have seen her grow up into "that most wonderful, caring young lady".

Instead he said her death left "an empty space" in the hearts of those who loved her, adding she would "never be replaced".

To his goddaughter, "our Christina", he said: "Sleep tight."

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  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: The coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins arrives for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: The coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins arrives for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: The coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins arrives for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: Family and friends follow the coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins as they arrive for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: Mourners wait for the the coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins to arrive for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: Mourners wait for the coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins to arrive for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • The Funeral Of Schoolgirl Christina Edkins Who Was Stabbed On A Bus In Birmingham

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: The coffin carrying the body of Christina Edkins arrives for her funeral service at St Phillips Cathedral on March 22, 2013 in Birmingham, England. Hundreds of people attended the service for the teenager, who was stabbed to death on a bus in Birmingham on March 7th. Leasowes High School, in Halesowen, where the 16-year-old was a pupil, was closed today to allow children and staff to join her family at the service (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    The coffin carrying Christina Edkins is carried into St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham followed by her parents Kath and Jason.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    Floral tributes for Christina Edkins seen in the hearse carrying her coffin on route to her funeral at St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    Mourners console each other during the funeral of Christina Edkins at St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    The coffin carrying Christina Edkins is carried into St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham followed by her parents Kath and Jason.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    The coffin carrying Christina Edkins is carried into St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham followed by her parents Kath and Jason.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    A message from the parents of Christina Edkins seen in the hearse carrying her coffin on route to her funeral at St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham.

  • Christine Edkins Funeral

    The coffin carrying Christina Edkins is carried into St Phillips Cathedral, Birmingham followed by her parents Kath and Jason.

  • Christina Edkins funeral

    A mourner holds a copy of the order of service at the funeral of murdered teenager Christina Edkins at St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham.

  • Christina Edkins funeral

    A mourner holds a copy of the order of service at the funeral of murdered teenager Christina Edkins at St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham.

  • Christina Edkins funeral

    A mourner holds a copy of the order of service at the funeral of murdered teenager Christina Edkins at St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham.

  • Schoolgirl bus stabbing

    Tributes are left for Christina Edkins who was fatally stabbed on a bus on her way to school on Hagley Road, Edgbaston.

  • Schoolgirl bus stabbing

    File photo dated 07/03/13 of police and forensics at the scene on Hagley Road, Birmingham where schoolgirl Christina Edkins, was stabbed to death, as Phillip Simelane, 22, is to be charged with her murder, West Midlands Police said today.