Record-breaking vicar plays his part in granddaughter’s wedding despite lockdown

The Church of England’s longest serving priest has played an important role in his granddaughter’s wedding despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Reverend Jim Cocke, 94, was the priest for the same parish in Oxford for 63 years until he retired in January and moved to a residential care home in Dorset.

He had been due to give the address at the marriage ceremony of his granddaughter Lucy in April.

But like many other weddings across the country the happy occasion had to be postponed because of Covid-19.

When the service eventually went ahead on July 18 under physical distancing restrictions, only 15 people were allowed in the church and Rev Cocke could not attend in person.

Instead, staff at Colten Care’s Castle View care home in Poundbury ensured he was able to prepare and send a personal address to be read out by Lucy’s father Andrew Boggis.

Rev Cocke’s words highlighted the importance of partnership in sustaining love and marriage, and when establishing a career – Lucy is a doctor and her husband Nick Dawnay is an army officer.

After the ceremony at St Giles’ Church near Beaminster, Castle View staff facilitated and hosted a Covid-safe visit which meant that Rev Cocke could see the newlyweds face-to-face in their wedding attire along with his daughter, Lucy’s mother, Fiona Boggis.

Rev Cocke, who began his ministry in 1952 and became vicar of All Saints’ in Headington in 1957, said: “I felt very much included in the special day. I thought Lucy looked so lovely.

“It was a great pity not a lot of people could go to the church because of the restrictions, but I am just so proud of her.”

The newly married Mrs Dawnay said: “It made my day even more special knowing my grandfather was included.”

Katja Williams, who works at Castle View, added: “We are very privileged to have Reverend Jim with us in the home.

“He kindly leads Sunday morning hymns and Bible reading, much to the appreciation of those attending.

“We were only too happy to do what we could to address the challenges of Covid restrictions and social distancing to ensure he could enjoy his family’s special day.

“We all extend our congratulations to the happy couple, wishing them a life of joy and blessings.”