Norfolk first county with coroner’s chaplain

Norfolk has become the first county in the UK to have a chaplain assigned to its coroner's court.

In a small ceremony at the Bishop of Norwich's home yesterday, Reverend Christine Copsey was licensed and will now offer support to friends and families during inquests.

Mrs Copsey, from Castle Acre, was ordained just four years ago.

Previously she was a primary school teacher in Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire, and has been chaplain at County Hall in Norwich for three years.

She said she was eager to start work and stressed how important it was for grieving families to have support in times of stress.

In the last three weeks she had observed inquests in Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth and said that they had been a 'revelation'.

'People don't often know what happens, and come totally terrified,' she said.

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'I've already got quite an insight into what will be needed.'

She added that the prospect of starting her work and helping people in distress was a 'great joy'.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong described the appointment as 'ground breaking' and said he was enthused about the idea.

'It's very important that inquests focus on the needs of the bereaved,' he said.

'It can be a very harrowing experience for individuals.'

After carrying out the licensing ceremony and holding a short prayer, the Bishop of Norwich held a reception.

He said: 'In Chris we've got somebody who's been a very effective chaplain in County Hall. She's got the skills for it.

'We're trailblazing really, we'll see what comes of it.

'People are hugely appreciative of somebody who's there and interested in being there if you need listening, but outside the system - Someone who can soak up the puzzlement and sometimes the anger,' he added.

Mrs Copsey will continue in her role as chaplain at County Hall, and split her time between the two sites.