Hundreds share in the Easter message at Stamford's Walk of Witness
Hundreds of people shared the message of Easter through Stamford’s annual Walk of Witness as crowds packed the High Street and a large procession followed the cross as it was carried around the town centre.
Gloriously sunshine helped boost the turnout as Stamford Churches Together marked the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this lunchtime.
The cross was again carried by Stamfordians Patrick Allen, 20, and Nyron Howitt, 21, something they have both done for the past couple of years.
Patrick, who attends St Augustine’s Church, said he felt ‘proud’ to carry the cross, though Nyron said you do feel ‘pain’ during the long procession.
As crowds gathered by St Michael’s Church, Father Simon Gillespie gave an introduction and prayer. He noted the outpouring of grief over the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and that its cross was still standing.
He said the witness serves to remind Stamford about what Good Friday is all about.
After a reading by Dr Jessica Randall Carrick of Christ Church, and a performance from Peter Prentice on the guitar, the cross began its silent procession up High Street and into Broad Street.
Rob Shaw led the procession banging his drum and was followed by several hundred people until they reached the top of Ironmonger Street after passing through a busy market.
A stop saw the assembled masses sing There Is a Green Hill Far Away before the procession carried silently on towards Red Lion Square, then back into High Street, watched by the crowds.
Back by St Michael’s Church, Peter Prentice performed another song and Patrick Allen gave a dramatic reading about Jesus.
The Rev Dr Peter Stevenson, the recently arrived pastor of the United Reform Church, likened the life of Jesus to the rollercoaster of Stamford’s Mid-Lent Fair.
He added: “Think about the Lord today and be ready to celebrate the risen Lord in two days.”
The witness ended with the hymn ‘I stand in the presence of Jesus’ and an elderly lady with a walking stick was helped to stand for it by her loving husband.
Margaret Chirico, 76, who attends St George’s Church, used to chair Stamford Churches Together.
She said: “I have been coming here for 30 years. It means that I follow Jesus. He’s my leader and I follow him. We all come from the different churches of Stamford. It’s really special to be together on this day.”
Husband Pino Chirico said: “To me this event means it’s the most important day for Christians to remember. The death of Jesus Christ that saved us and the joy we have in the two days when he rises again. It’s the core of our belief.”
The 81-year-old said he has attended the witness since 1974, when he came to Stamford from Italy, where they had met and then married here.
Graham Fletcher, 67, from Bainton is another regular and is a sound engineer for the witness.
He said of this year’s event: “It was brilliant. There were more people than last year. It is growing. People now expect to see it here and they think it’s great.”
Siblings Nathaniel, Lydia and Luke Taylor, who attend St George’s Church, also said the day was important to their faith.
Meghan Denman, 20, of Oakham, who also attends St George's, added that the procession helps people to remember everything Jesus went through.
And finally, the man who banged the drum and led the way, Rob Show, said the witness went phenomenally well.
“The weather was marvellous anyway and all the elements came together. To see so many people joining in and singing the Lord’s Prayer was deeply moving. It was a great joy.”
He also paid tribute to Stamford’s new pastor and his speech about joining his new flock.
“Peter Stevenson is determined to be absorbed into the Stamford community as any good pastor would.”