The week may have seen the hottest day of the year in most parts of the UK but several important guests at Sunday morning’s open-air service at All Saints Church, Ashover, turned up wearing fur coats.
The VIPs (that’s Very Important Pets) were attending a special celebration for animals of all shapes, colours and sizes as well as their human owners.
Church members without a pet were encouraged to bring a cuddly toy and so the service went ahead with various live dogs and frequent church attender Maud the donkey as well as a toy pink pig, brown bear, monkey and a mini-horse.
The service was seen as a great success for reader Celia Kelly who planned the event, conducted a quiz on animals mentioned in the Bible and did interviews with church members and visitors about their pets.
“It was a superb occasion. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it,” said churchwardens Anne Eyley and Brenda Shaw.
Undoubted star of the morning was ‘Frankie’, the pointer pet of Ruth and Rob Francis, who caused several members of the congregation to collapse in fits of laughter by his loud and persistent ‘singing’ to the keyboard music of popular animal hymns.
Ruth said later: “Frankie always sings loudly. He’s particularly fond of Il Divo and Joe McElderry though we had to stop him watching Songs of Praise because he made such a noise.”
Prayers were led by Rosemary Early, the reading was by Ron Eyley and the organist was Sarah Evans.