Pigeons released as Shropshire pays tribute to Prince Philip

Pigeons flew high in a poignant tribute to Prince Philip as Shropshire remembered him on the day of his funeral.

Pigeons were released as a tribute to Prince Philip at St Mary's Church in Bridgnorth
Pigeons were released as a tribute to Prince Philip at St Mary's Church in Bridgnorth

The nation fell silent at 3pm when his funeral procession began, but as well as watching on television, Salopians paid tribute across the county.

In Bridgnorth, racing pigeons were released into the sky. The birds played a vital role in both World Wars and both the Queen and the Duke are fond of the animals. The Queen is currently patron of the National Flying Club.

Committee member Aurel Voiculescu organised the Bridgnorth event, which was also attended by club president and pigeon fancier of 75 years Ray Scriven and fellow committee member Arthur Jones.

Aurel said: "It was our way of showing respect for Prince Philip's dedication to this country. For me, it is a historic moment which I am proud to be a part of. It is an honour. It was a good send off. Prince Philip has stood side-by-side with the Queen for 74 years."

The Duke of Edinburgh's coffin, covered with his Personal Standard, is carried into St George's Chapel

An additional tribute from the National Flying Club read: “Today our thoughts and sympathies go to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family as we join them to mourn the loss of Prince Philip. A public figure that devoted his life of duty, purpose, and devotion to the Queen.

"Today is a day to remember his life and incredible service to Britain and around the world. Rest in peace, Your Highness.”

Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew 'Vern' Stokes, from Telford, was in charge of organising the ceremony, while Colour Sergeant Graham Tait, from Oswestry, was among the pall bearers who carried Prince Philip's coffin into St George's Chapel.

His son, Able Seaman Sam Tait, was representing the Navy outside while Guardsman Sam Tudor, of Wellington, helped to carry the coffin when it was first seen in the Windsor Castle quadrangle

Elsewhere in Shropshire, a ceremony was held at the war memorial in Market Drayton and people paused to pay their respects in pubs and homes across the county.

A ceremony was held at the war memorial in Market Drayton

In Market Drayton, the Royal British Legion club organised a socially distanced wreath laying at it’s Church Street club.

Pipes were played in Market Drayton by Alan Kirby, while wreaths were laid by the town's mayor Roy Aldcroft, the town’s Royal British Legion branch manager Ian Nellins, and Ken Louth, also a member of the Royal British Legion. Reverend Catherine McBride of St Mary’s Church led proceedings before attendees made their way home to watch the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on television.

Mr Nellins said: “It was something short and sweet really. We didn’t want to make a big scene because of social distancing and needing to keep people apart.

“We had a simple service with a minute’s silence. Three wreaths were laid, a piper played a lament and we left it at that.

“There were about a dozen members of the Royal British Legion present. It was just our way of acknowledging and marking the occasion, and it was done prior to the funeral so everybody could get home and watch it. It’s one of those occasions which you have to watch, I think most of the country will have been watching.”

Piper Alan Kirby at the war memorial in Market Drayton

The Duke held a number of military titles in his life, including Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy, Captain General of the Royal Marines, Marshal in the RAF and Field Marshal of the British Army.

Mr Nellins, who served 39 years in the army, added: “Within the Royal British Legion you have a mixture of people from all of the services. Prince Philip was involved in all of them. It’s nice to mark these occasions”

A group of Duke of Edinburgh Award winners rang the bells at Holy Trinity Church in Meole Brace.

Frankie Hartland, Andy Digby, Laura Burrows and Josh Oakley, all 16, were in the tower with captain Michael Carding, ringing out a special tribute to the Duke. The awards, a youth programme recognising a series of self-improvement exercises, has been one of Prince Philip's biggest legacies.

Shrewsbury's Bishop Mark Davies paid his respects, saying: “Beyond the aura of a thousand-year-old monarchy, all of us come to know the members of this family through their life-long service and personal engagement with every corner of our land. They help to show us how all authority and power in a nation is given and entrusted for service.

"We recognise the human face of the members of a family who strive every day to live out their duty as an expressly Christian calling. We share in the mourning of a family which in some way belongs to us all. We share a sense of loss at the death of Prince Philip, who was part of our national life for as long as most can remember.

“Pope Francis’s ‘heartfelt condolences’ to Her Majesty the Queen expressed sentiments shared across the world. In the past week, so many people, from all walks of life, have acknowledged her husband’s distinguished public service which had extended across the greater part of a century. That service was rooted, Pope Francis said, in his devotion to marriage and family and in his concern for the advancement of future generations.

"In the past week there has been much reflection on the enduring legacy, in a myriad of good works to which the Duke of Edinburgh energetically devoted almost a hundred years of life and for which he used the position entrusted to him.”

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