Video: Snow falls on Walk of Witness parades

Clive Hankers, as Jesus, is put on the cross in the Stamford Walk of Witness parade by Ian Wilkinson and Mervyn Franklin
Clive Hankers, as Jesus, is put on the cross in the Stamford Walk of Witness parade by Ian Wilkinson and Mervyn Franklin

Despite the snow and freezing conditions hundreds of people turned out to watch annual Walk of Witness events across the area.

The event re-enacts the journey Jesus made from his trial to his crucifixion. In Stamford, the walk started at midday in High Street and was led by Dean of Stamford the Very Rev Mark Warrick, vice-chairman of Stamford Churches Together which organises the event.

It began with a hymn and an introduction by Rev Warrick in which he thanked people for attending.

When the procession started heavy snow was falling on the bare-chested and bare-footed Jesus, played by Clive Hankers, who carried the cross and led the procession, accompanied by two security guards, played by Ian Wilkinson and Mervyn Franklin, and drummer Rob Shaw. The parade made its way along High Street, Star Lane and Broad Street and stopped for a hymn at the top of Ironmonger Street, before continuing along Broad Street, through Red Lion Square and back into High Street.

Rev Warrick told the crowd: “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t snowing in Bethlehem at Christmas all those years ago, let alone on Good Friday.

“I’m glad I wasn’t playing Jesus because it is absolutely freezing.

“It certainly adds a bit of suffering for the many carrying the cross.”

Back at Ironmonger Street, the Stamford Gospel Choir sang Steal Away as Jesus took his place on the stage where he died and was taken away from the crowds on a stretcher.

During the service, there were readings from Father Chris O’Connor from St Mary and St Augustine Roman Catholic Church, the Rev Andy Fyall from Trinity Methodist and the Rev Martyn Taylor from St George’s Church and Christ Church and his daughter Lydia gave a spirited reading.

Empingham Mission Band accompanied the hymns.

Rev Warrick then finished the hour-long service with another hymn, the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing.

Afterwards, Rev Warrick said: “The Walk of Witness is something all the churches do together in Stamford and we are glad we are able to do that.

“I think it went very well considering how cold it was.”

He estimated there had been between 200 and 300 people gathered.

Rev Taylor said it was not the first time it had snowed during the annual Easter event and that it had snowed five years ago when he played Jesus.

In Oakham, more than 200 people walked through streets in a the solemn procession carrying a wooden cross and handing out hot cross buns to passers by.

The event, organised by Churches Together in Oakham, is an annual pilgrimage along High Street from the St John and St Anne complex in St Anne’s Close, Oakham, to the Buttercross in Market Place where a Good Friday service was held in public.

Along the route volunteers handed out 150 hot cross buns donated by the Midlands Co-op.

The buns were wrapped in special serviettes telling the Easter story.

The service was led by the Rev Russell Parker, from Oakham Methodist Church, however people at the service represented all the churches in the town and ages ranged from infants to the elderly.

Derek Breen, Secretary of Churches Together in Oakham, said: “I reckon it was the best one ever, we had such a lot of people there.

“There was the odd piece of snow and it was very cold but overall it was very good.”