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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 23:50 GMT
Hundreds join prayers for Shipman victims

The people of Hyde feel deep shock


The families and friends of Harold Shipman's victims have joined together in grief for a special prayer service.

Hundreds arrived at St George's Church in Hyde, Greater Manchester for the ecumenical service.

Many had begun mourning relatives for the second time after having laid their loved ones to rest then discovering that they died at the hands of the doctor.

Angela Woodruff wipes away a tear
Dr John Harries, curate of St George's Church, said he wanted to show people they could put their trust in God.

He said: "In this great darkness, and it is hard to imagine greater darkness, Christ pierces through and brings hope, truth and healing.

"People are still reeling. They are still in shock and are looking for something to hold on to."

He added: "It was a fact in life that you could trust your doctor - that has now gone.

"There are some people who will never know and they have to face up to that."


There are some people who will never know and they have to face up to that
Dr John Harries
During the service, five candles were lit by people aged between eight and 68 to represent the fact the tragedy touched the lives of all generations.

Relatives and friends of the 146 patients whose deaths are or have been investigated by Greater Manchester Police, poured into the church as the bells chimed.

Among them were the Woodruff family, who sparked the police investigation into Shipman after the death of Kathleen Grundy.

The families of Nora Nuttall and Winifred Mellors also arrived at the church.

Dr Harries said Shipman's victims were in "a real sense neighbours" and that the community was in shock.

Betrayal

After the congregation sang the hymn The Lord Is My Shepherd, members of the public lit the five candles as Julia Mann sang Pia Jesu.

During the Lloyd Webber song, relatives dabbed tears from their eyes and clasped each other's hands.

Leading the prayers, Dr Harries said: "We come before you with broken hearts. Nothing anyone can say or do will take away the pain.


Hyde is resilient - I am sure we will come back
Gladys Ransome, 69,
He said: "We pray for the family of Dr Shipman - Primrose, Christopher, David, Sarah and Sam - who are also victims of this betrayal and who have suffered so greatly in the last few months."

As relatives left the service, many were too tearful to talk.

Gladys Ransome, 69, said she thought Hyde would bounce back after the tragedy which has touched so many.

She said: "We are resilient, I am sure Hyde will come back. They have done it before. We are a great lot. We are made of stronger stuff."

Jack Lomas, the son of 63-year-old Ivy Lomas, who was murdered by Shipman in May 1997, said he felt the service had helped.

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See also:
02 Feb 00 |  UK
In pictures: Prayers for Shipman victims
01 Feb 00 |  UK
Shipman town gripped by 'terrible atmosphere'
02 Feb 00 |  UK
Shipman jailers sent home
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