Lord-Lieutenant celebrates Jubilee at thanksgiving service for volunteers in Luton
And the service of thanksgiving for the work of the county’s many voluntary organisations is her last before she retires later this year.
Guests – some magnificent in traditional dress from Luton’s many diverse communities – were welcomed by a Guard of Honour from various cadet units as well as representatives from Luton International Carnival in colourful costumes. The Lord Lieutenant and her husband Professor Joe Nellis were piped into the church by Bedford Pipe Band and the service was led by Rev Mike Jones with the Bishop of Bedford The Rt Rev Richard Atkinson OBE giving the address and blessing.
The sun shone through the stained glass windows as Voices with Soul sang a moving acapella version of Amazing Grace and the Vauxhall Male Voice Choir enchanted the congregation with Men of Harlech and Love Changes Everything.
There were readings by University of Bedfordshire vice chancellor Professor Rebecca Bunting as well as Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service winners David Jonahan MBE from Luton Council of Faith and Virginia Pope from Sharnbrook Mill Theatre.
The Lord Lieutenant was supported by her Vice Lord-Lieutenant Chris Sharwood-Smith and seven cadets.
Guests included Bedfordshire High Sheriff Lady Jane Clifford and Sir Timothy Clifford, Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins and chief fire officer Andrew Hopkinson, together with representatives from Bedford Police, town mayors and countrywide organisations and the armed forces.
Speaking after the service, the Lord-Lieutenant said: “The service was so emotional for my husband and I. It captured so much of what I have been trying to guide at the Lieutenancy - togetherness, valuing and celebrating our rich diversity, the goodness of so many and the pride in our wonderful county. I felt it all on Sunday.
"The church was filled with goodwill and cheer and it was a pleasure to share the day with the wonderful people who are building a culture of kindness and cohesion in our county.
"And I was thrilled that we honoured HM the Queen and her 70 years of dedication in a respectful but uniquely Bedfordshire way.”