Luton gathers to pay its respects to The Queen at St Mary's Thanksgiving Service

The soft glow of candles lit up St Mary’s Church in Luton on Wednesday (September 14) at a Service of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Our late Queen had close ties with the town through Luton Hoo, where she and Prince Philip spent part of their honeymoon.

She often worshipped at the church and red roses – the universal symbol of love – were placed at the foot of her own special seat in the Wenlock Chapel.

Local residents who’d gathered to pay their respects shared many personal reminiscences of the Monarch - from Luton Hoo Estate director Edward Phillips to church organist Andrew Rodell, who remembers calling the Queen ‘the lady with the hat’ when he was a little boy.

Lord-Lieutenant Susan Lousada was there, together with High Sheriff Lady Jane Clifford and the Bishops of Bedford and St Albans, the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson and Rt Rev Alan Smith.

Other dignitaries included MP Rachel Hopkins, Luton Mayor Sameera Saleem and Cllr Maria Lovell, who spoke of her ties with Ghana and the Commonwealth.

In addition, there were representatives from Luton Council of Faiths, community organisations and the police.

St Mary’s vicar, Mike Jones, said: “It was a very moving service to take, everyone felt very united.

"One elderly lady told me her banns had been read when the Queen was in the congregation.

"There were so many poignant touches and at the end of the service, people stayed around to chat and share their thoughts and memories.

“It was a very special moment, one none of us will ever forget.”