Sophie, Countess of Wessex, opens Bisley church extension

THE Countess of Wessex stole the hearts of Bisley parishioners in a ceremony that honoured two individuals who went above and beyond to serve St John the Baptist Church.

A church extension, named in memory of the late John and Rosemary Cooper, had its ribbon cut in royal style by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, last Thursday.

John and Rosemary’s son Christopher, plus his niece Kali, 35, and her one-year-old daughter, Posy, joined members of the community and Surrey Heath dignitaries for the special ceremony.

Christopher, 70, said: “My mother and father would be very proud to know they have a room named after them in their local church. It was a surprise to hear it would be named after them but they really did do a lot for the church.”

Visit organiser and chairman of the extension committee, Peter Fry, thanked Her Royal Highness for giving up her time to help make the day so memorable.

He said: “Three generations of Coopers got to meet The Countess and that was a great touch.

“She is very intelligent, having had a career in public relations, and is a very warm ‘people person’. She listens to what people are saying and responds to that. The atmosphere was great and Sophie was wonderful.”

Bells tolled as The Countess made her arrival, and once all were inside the church, Reverend Andy Armitt led the prayers. Bishop Ian Brackley then blessed the newly-opened Cooper Room.

Applause broke out as the Royal unveiled a commemorative plaque and signed her name in the visitors’ book. A small bouquet of flowers was presented to The Countess by local Beaver Daniel Watson and Bisley Rainbow Isabelle Heney.

Flag-wielding pupils from Bisley Primary and Holy Trinity School in West End gave Her Royal Highness a superb send-off, her car pulling away from the Clews Lane church to a throng of waving Union Flags.

“What a treat seeing the Countess in our local church,” added the delighted Arthur Hurst, 72, from Bisley. “It’s not every day that happens.”

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