A Double Blessing for Fire Service

Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor with (left to right) the Bishop of Ludlow, the Rt Rev Michael Hooper, the Dean of Shrewsbury Cathedral Stephen Coonan and Brigade Chaplain Rev Peter Barnes (right).

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has received the official blessing of both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster in celebration of its diamond jubilee year.

In special signed letters, the heads of both the Catholic and Anglican Church, praised Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and brigades from across the UK.

In the letter from Lambeth Palace addressed to officers and staff of the Shropshire service, Rowan Cantuar paid tribute to the "courage, bravery, commitment and self sacrifice" of everyone working for and supporting the fire and rescue services in Shropshire and the UK.

"We remember all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. My thoughts and prayers are with you on this special anniversary."

Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said he was "well aware" of the extraordinary talents displayed by those in the fire and rescue services.

"I want to warmly congratulate you on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service."

He added: "I pray that God will give you courage when fearful, wisdom when making quick decisions and strength when weary."

The messages were read out by the Bishop of Ludlow, the Rt Rev Michael Hooper and the Dean of Shrewsbury Cathedral Stephen Coonan during a recent Carol service to celebrate the 60th anniversary held at St Mary Magdalene Church, Bridgnorth and attended by 400.

Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor said: "It is a great honour to receive the blessings of both heads of the Anglican and Catholic churches. The service commemorated our 60th anniversary in a truly memorable way."

Bridgnorth Endowed School choir and St Mary's Choristers.

The choirs of Bridgnorth Endowed School and the St Mary's Choristers led the carols, accompanied by Bridgnorth Endowed School Band and St Mary's organist Dr John Turnock.

During the service Christmas readings were delivered by the actress Gabrielle Drake, Cllr John Hurst-Knight from the Fire Authority, Station Manager Dave Bishton from Tweedale Fire Station and Crew Manager Ashley Brown from Bridgnorth Fire Station.

The readers represented three charities – Asthma UK, St Mary's Church Fund and The Firefighters Charity - all benefiting from £1,200 raised during the service.

Even Santa Claus made an appearance for the younger members of the congregation.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, along with other UK brigades, was created in 1948, amalgamating small brigades from towns and boroughs across the county.

BBC Shropshire broadcast the service at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

29th December, 2008