Mass baptism honours grandfather’s last wish

Eleven people were christened in a mass baptism on Saturday to honour one of the parting wishes of a much-loved grandfather.

The poignant family ceremony at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham was held in memory of Keith Green, who died at the age of 70 three months ago.

The queue at the font included four of Mr Green's grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with the line-up completed by a close family friend.

It was all arranged by Mr Green's widow Phyl, who said her husband had always wanted to see his growing family christened in his parish church.

'Keith passed away in September and he always moaned that the grandchildren were not christened,' she said.

'He was not really a religious man, but he wanted it done, so I thought I would do it for him in his memory.

'He loved his grandchildren and had healing hands if they ever had a headache or a tummy ache. It was a very poignant day and I had to hold myself back once or twice - but we've done him proud.'

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Mrs Green, of North Pickenham Road in Swaffham, said her husband was a former porter at Swaffham's George Hotel and a stalwart of the town's Conservative club.

The service was carried out by the Rev John Smith, who told the congregation it was has his final baptism before he retires early next year.

'What we are doing here is a very significant event and I know it was something that dear Keith wished to take place, ' he said. 'A friend of mine who is a vicar in Nottingham was in the national papers when he had 13 people who went to him for a christening, and that was the first time this had happened to him.

'Well, this is the first time it's happened to me that I've had 11 – so it is an extra-special day for us all.'

Mr Green's four grandchildren baptised on Saturday were Leanne, Lucy and Luke Abbott, aged 24, 21 and 11 respectively, and Ria Byerley, 17. The six great-grandchildren were Leon, Riley and Jayden Stolworthy, aged three years, two years and nine months respectively, Jordan Richardson, 12, and nine-year-old twins Mitchell and Jamie Richardson. Family friend Carol Stoddart, 48, was also christened.