A DEVOTED church warden who has been welcoming people to St Wilfrid's in Grappenhall for 50 years has been honoured for his service.

Eighty-eight-year-old Gordon Berry became warden in 1968 when the Rector at the time, Reverend John Roberts, suggested he 'might give it a go'.

And for the past half century the retired accountant company secretary, from Grappenhall, has been volunteering his time to the smooth running of worship, church activities and the maintenance of the building.

Gordon has seen four rectors come and go and is currently working with his fifth, Reverend Jane Proudfoot, the first woman to become rector of Grappenhall in its almost 900 year history.

"Working with Gordon is wonderful," she said.

"He is a great man, and a great friend, who is always looking to the future for the church and has an amazing capacity for change and adaptation.

"We have had so many lovely letters from people he has helped over the years because he is so good. He is just absolutely lovely."

At a special celebration on Sunday May 6, Gordon was honoured for his service to the church.

The bishop of Chester, Right Reverend Dr Peter Forster, was welcomed to the service held on Church Lane, as well as Reverend Alec Brown, rural dean, and Joan Sears, lay chair of the deanery of Great Budworth, all of whom have known and worked with Gordon.

A further celebration was held during a service on May 29 at St Wilfrid's when Gordon was presented with a new church warden's staff by the Archdeacon of Chester in front of his fellow wardens from across Warrington, Northwich and Middlewich.

The staff has a brass mitre on the top – a reference to church wardens being officers of the Bishop.

Ms Proudfoot added: "Gordon is a figurehead in our church, so many people know and love him and it seems that he knows everyone.

"He makes sure that everyone has a warm welcome."

Gordon, who has two daughters Susan and Karen, three grandchildren and two great-grand children, not only helps people visiting the church during services but he also works with people visiting St Wilfrid's who are researching their family history.

He said: "It just sort of happened really but I have enjoyed every minute of my time as church warden. Serving God by looking after people in the parish has given me so much pleasure and satisfaction over the years."