MORE than 200 people turned out to pay their respects to the tragic Riaz family at a special memorial service on Wednesday evening.
On what would have been Caneze Riaz's 40th birthday, the hall at Moorhead Sports College was packed with friends, colleagues and family members who paid a moving and emotional tribute to the mother and her four daughters.
Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 15, Alicia, 10, and Hannah, three, all perished in a blaze at their home in Tremellen Street, Accrington, along with mum Caneze and dad Mohammed, 49, who is suspected of starting the fire.
Five candles had been lit in the hall as a mark of respect and photographs were projected on to the wall while tear-jerking songs were played in the background.
The only surviving member of the Riaz family, Adam, 17, who is battling leukaemia, attended the service with his uncle Barry and grandmother June.
Moorhead headteacher Andrew Bateman said the event gave everyone the chance to comfort each other and pass on their thoughts and memories to the family as they try to come to terms with what happened.
He said: "In the aftermath of these tragic events, there have been many opportunities for various groups to come together to share their grief.
"I hope tonight is not a sombre occasion but a time to remember five wonderful people who were very special to us in their own ways."
Sayrah and Sophia attended Moorhead, where Sayrah was deputy head girl, while Alicia went to Hyndburn Park Primary School, whose headteacher John Boden attended the service.
One by one, schoolfriends of the girls read poems and shared their memories and one pupil sang her tribute to the packed hall.
One young girl said: "True friends are like stars; you can't always see them but they are always there."
Another schoolfriend of Sayrah's fought back the tears as she said: "When Adam became ill, he became number one in Sayrah's life; she wanted to be there for him.
"She didn't come shopping with me once because she wanted to be with him on his hospital trip.
"Sayrah has given me lots of special memories which I will remember for the rest of my life."
Caneze's brother Barry Khanan also paid tribute to his family. He said: "I'm always going to miss having my sister around. I just hope that my mum, Adam and I have made her proud. The girls were not just my nieces, I only ever had four daughters.
"I love you Caneze, happy birthday."
The effect that the deaths has had on the community was clear to see as schoolfriends wept and hugged each other once the service came to a close.
Shanaz Hussain, from Scaitcliffe Community Centre, said: "Caneze was dedicated to her family 110 per cent. She didn't want any awards for what she did, she was an average woman who just got on with it.
"But we now all know that she wasn't just an average woman, she was very special. She did things from her heart with passion and determination; she was unique.
"She will be remembered as a remarkable woman who I think we should all aspire to."