The Reverend Jim Cocke, the Church of England’s longest serving priest until his retirement in January, has thanked staff at his Dorset care home for helping him play an important role in his granddaughter’s wedding despite lockdown.
Jim, 94, an ordained priest for more than 67 years, serving as Vicar of All Saints’, Headington, Oxford, is a resident at Colten Care’s Castle View care home in Poundbury.
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.
When the service eventually went ahead under physical distancing restrictions, only 15 people were allowed in the church – St Giles’ at Hooke near Beaminster, Dorset – and Jim could not attend in person.
Instead, staff at Castle View ensured he was able to prepare and send a personal address to be read out by Andrew Boggis, Lucy’s father, with kind permission of the Reverend Canon David Baldwin, who conducted the ceremony.
Jim’s words highlighted the importance of partnership in sustaining love and marriage, and when establishing a career – Lucy is a doctor and new husband Nick Dawnay is an army officer.
After the ceremony, Castle View staff facilitated and hosted a Covid-safe visit which meant that Jim could see the newlyweds face-to-face in their wedding attire along with his daughter, Lucy’s mother, Fiona Boggis.
Jim, who began his ministry as an assistant curate in 1952, becoming Vicar of All Saints’ 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.”
Lucy thanked the Castle View team for enabling the visit to see Jim, saying: “It made my day even more special knowing my grandfather was included.”
Likewise, Fiona said: “The staff were brilliant. They did everything they could so Lucy and Nick could come and visit. They even put out banners and balloons to welcome them. They couldn’t have been kinder.”
Katja Williams, Companionship Team Leader at Castle View, said: “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.”