Thursday 22 March 2018

Brides-to-be stage church sit-in

Stephanie Rowe and Emily Morton stage a sit-in protest at All Saints Church in Maerdy, Rhondda
Stephanie Rowe and Emily Morton stage a sit-in protest at All Saints Church in Maerdy, Rhondda

Two brides-to-be have taken part in a sit-in at their village church after their dream weddings were cancelled.

All Saints Church in Maerdy, Rhondda, held its last service on Sunday, prompting a protest by villagers.

Joining them were 21-year-old Emily Morton and Stephanie Rowe, 23, who both hoped to become the fourth generation of their family to walk down the aisle there.

Ms Morton said she wanted to carry on the family tradition when she booked her wedding with fiance Aaron Jones, 23, six months ago. Her mum, grandmother and great-great grandmother all married at the 126-year-old church.

"I was christened here and have been coming to the church all of my life," she added. "My great-great gran was married here in 1923 and I was desperate to carry on that tradition just like my mother and grandmother did.

"My gran lives across the road from the church. I had planned to walk across to the ceremony in my wedding dress just like my mum and gran had done before me. I could picture every detail of my wedding. But now that has been taken from me at the last moment - it is heartbreaking."

Nurse Ms Rowe has been planning her wedding to Gavin Derrick, 23, for the past 18 months. Her mother tied the knot at All Saints in 1977, while her grandmother married there in 1957.

She added: "My great-grandmother had her wedding in 1933 and it was the first ever white wedding in the village. I'm really gutted about not being able to have mine here - especially as I was due to get married in August. I spent ages hand-making 120 invites and now they all are wrong and will have to be remade. I will also have to rearrange the cars and minibuses I had organised too."

The pair, who have been joined in their vigil by around 50 locals, are now looking at booking another village church more than five miles away. Protest organisers say they hope their demonstration will make the Parochial Church Council "sit up and take notice" of how strongly they feel about the closure.

But church officials said All Saints was becoming "too dangerous" to keep open as it needed around £400,000 worth of repairs. Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan said: "Nobody wants to see a church closed and my prayers are with members of All Saints. It is simply a matter of practicality and pooling our resources together."

Press Association

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