Funeral takes places of prank call nurse Jacintha Saldanha
THE funeral of the nurse found dead after being duped by a prank call to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge is taking place in India today.
Mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanging in her nurses' quarters at London's King Edward VII's Hospital by a colleague and a security guard on December 7.
Three days earlier the nurse had transferred a call from two Australian DJs, believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Duchess during her hospital stay for severe pregnancy sickness.
Ms Saldanha's family have flown to her home country for the funeral, which began at Our Lady of Health Church in the town of Shirva, Karnataka, at 4pm local time (10.30am GMT).
Her children described the "unfillable void" left in their lives by their mother's death as a mass was held at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.
Following the service, her husband Benedict Barboza and two children Junal and Lisha paid an emotional tribute to a "kind-hearted, generous and well-respected woman".
Fighting back tears, Mr Barboza said: "My wife, you were the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward.
"From the day we met, you always stood by me in times of hardship and happiness.
"I feel a part of me has been ripped out."
Ms Saldanha's daughter Lisha, 14, said: "We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence.
"We are shattered and there's an unfillable void in our lives."
Her son Junal, 16, said: "Our mother, kind hearted, generous and a well-respected woman in both of our lives. You were the core of the family who kept us together."
Standing outside the cathedral alongside their local MP Charlotte Leslie and MP Keith Vaz, who has been campaigning on behalf of the family, Mr Barboza said the family "could not have foreseen the unprecedented tragedy that has unfolded in our lives".
"The events of the last week have shattered our lives. We barely have the strength to withstand the grief and sorrow."
He thanked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron for their condolences.
Memorial services have already been held at the hospital where Ms Saldanha worked and in Bristol where her husband and children live.
Ms Saldanha left two notes in her room and also had marks on her wrist when her body was discovered, Westminster Coroner's Court in London heard on Thursday.
A provisional date of March 26 has been set for the next inquest hearing.
John Lofthouse, the King Edward VII's Hospital chief executive, has said the nurse was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management after the hoax.
The DJs behind the call - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - have given an emotional account of their reaction to Ms Saldanha's death.
Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the presenters said their prank call to the hospital prompted "a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected".
Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, has ended the pair's Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.