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Farewell to curate who was community hero in lockdown – and used water gun for christenings

PUBLISHED: 07:08 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 03 August 2020

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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A popular curate who has helped his community through the pandemic was given a standing ovation in a final farewell service.

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The Rev Jack Branford, 30, announced earlier this year that he would be leaving Aylsham Parish Church to take up a role as chaplain of Gresham’s School in Holt.

He has done so much to help the town during lockdown - and even came up with the idea of using a water pistol for christenings.

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

During the farewell service various members of the church, Aylsham and District rector and the chairman of Broadland Council all spoke of their gratitude for all he had done for the community both before and throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

During the service, Mr Branford was declared a community hero by both the Rotary Club and Broadland Council.

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Jack and family. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Jack and family. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The church also announced that they would be putting up a plaque in the church in honour of Mr Branford to mark how he helped Aylsham and the surrounding areas through the crisis - the announcement led the crowd to give the curate a standing ovation.

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Mr Branford said: “I’m incredibly touched. The last couple of months since we announced we were leaving have been an emotional roller coaster.

“We love this team of churches and we love these communities. The overwhelming emotion has been thankfulness.”

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Over the last few months, Mr Branford helped the town and surrounding villages by launching a community help line along with volunteers, keeping the foodbank running and turning an old telephone box into a community pantry.

In more recent weeks he has been holding services and prayer live on Facebook and has found new ways to host a christening from a social distance using a water pistol.

Jack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJack Banford is giving his last service at Aylsham Parish Church before starting his new job as the Chaplin at Gresham's. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

“I would usually put my hand into the water and flick it into the crowd,” Mr Branford said. “But with coronavirus that wasn’t the best idea. I decided to fill the water gun up and use that instead, it really made people smile.”

Mr Branford will now have one month before starting his new job at Gresham’s.

He said: “It’s a wonderful school and I can’t wait to start. I enjoy working with young people and being able to help them through challenges they face such as ill-mental health.”


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