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Kent pays tribute to the Queen Mother

THE people of Kent have joined in the tributes to the Queen Mother who has died at the age of 101. Prayers were said for her and the rest of her family at church services throughout the county on Easter Sunday.

During her lifetime the Queen Mother paid numerous visits to Kent, many of them to Walmer Castle as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a post she assumed in 1979. Her death came within 48 hours of the Queen visiting both Canterbury and the Medway Towns as part of her Jubilee Year celebrations.

Leading religious figures in Kent have expressed their sorrow. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said: "Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, has been for many, an example of service to the nation and of faithfulness to the people, through good times and bad.

"Her courage during the Second World War gave resolve to others. Her death marks a watershed in the nation's history and she will be greatly missed, not least for her qualities of courage and constancy."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said the Queen Mother had entered into the hearts of the British people. He praised her "unfailing dignity, devotion to duty and charm ".

In his Easter Day sermon Dr Carey said it was usually a season of great joy and the triumph of life over death. "But this Easter morn we are all too aware of loss and bereavement with the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother," he told the congregation. "As the nation mourns, we give thanks to God for a life not only of great longevity but also of one lived to the full."

In 1969, Canon Alan Vousden was presented with his degree by the Queen Mother. Speaking from St Margaret's Church in Rainham, he said: "At the time I recall she was the chairman or vice chairman of the University of London. She presented me with my Batchelor of Science degree. It was one of those quick things but she was a very gracious lady. She was unique and she will be a great loss."

Ron Green, a senior editor of the Kent Messenger Group, said: "It is a sad occasion in our history. She was much loved by the people of Kent and around the world."

Books of condolence have been opened at libraries and in the crypt at Canterbury Cathedral. Memorial services will be held on Sunday, April 7, at Rochester Cathedral (3.15pm) and at Canterbury Cathedral.

*A 32-page special publication paying tribute to her life is included with the Kent Messenger Group's principal newspapers this week.

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