MORE than 100 people gathered in Pakefield today (Sunday) to take part in the village’s third annual Blessing of the Herring ceremony.

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After the annual service was cancelled a fortnight ago because of heavy rain, this time the sun shone down on a glorious Sunday afternoon as people flocked to the green opposite the Oddfellows pub.

And instead of the scenes of a couple of weeks ago, as umbrella-wielding locals slipped in the wet conditions, on this occasion the weather - much like last year - was befitting of a beautiful Summer’s day.

The service was once again led by the Rector of Pakefield, Canon Bob Baker, who welcomed everyone to the green and said: “It’s good to see you all here - thank you for coming, it is so much better than two weeks ago.”

Mr Baker then blessed the fish, which had been caught by Pakefield fishermen, before the first hymn was sung. He said: “Thank you to all the fishermen who caught the herrings - there has not been a lot of herrings about over the last week or two, so thank you to everyone who has contributed.”

This led to applause from the crowd, before a bible reading, prayers and a final hymn.

As he blessed the boxes of herring, Mr Baker thanked the fishermen for “the gift of fish,” describing them as a “rich harvest from the sea”. He also said a prayer to the “fishermen, lifeboatmen and sailors” who all risk their lives going to sea.

After the herring were blessed they were cooked and offered for sale to help raise funds for a new appeal at the parish church.

With the herring being grilled at the pub opposite, the smell of cooking soon wafted over the seafront green - leading to a queue of people (and pet dogs) waiting patiently for their treats.

After the blessing ceremony Mr Baker said: “This is the third Blessing of the Herring and the weather has been really good today, which helps with a great turn-out.

“We still have a lot of fishermen who fish here and it is nice to be able to thank them for what they do.”

The idea of the Blessing of the Herring came from Charlie Atkins, landlord of the Oddfellows pub, who cooked the herring for the eager crowd.

Last year, £300 was raised from the herring and roe sale, with the money going to the £15,000 church organ’s restoration appeal - which has recently been completed.

Mr Baker said: “We thank Charlie for all his help in organising the ceremony, and the monies raised from today will go towards a new project. Today has kick-started our appeal to raise £20,000 to build a new kitchen in the church hall, which we desperately need.

“We are very grateful to every one who helped raise monies for the organ restoration appeal and now our intention is to build a much larger kitchen as we have so much going on in there.”

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