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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 January, 2005, 11:47 GMT
Altar 'boy', 89, may hold record
Peter Staley with his scroll from the Pope
Peter Staley's long service has been marked with a scroll from the Pope
An 89-year-old from Gloucester is staking a claim to being the world's longest-serving altar 'boy'.

Peter Staley has clocked up 82 years of service at St Peter's Roman Catholic Church in the city.

He has received an apostolic blessing and a decorated scroll from Pope John Paul II for his lengthy service.

Mr Staley said: "There's a lot of kneeling down involved in being an altar boy but I can still do that without any problem - it keeps me fit."

The previous holder of the world record for the longest-serving altar boy died in 1999. He served for 81 years.

'Not giving up'

But Mr Staley's recent birthday takes him up to 82 years of service, and could give him the title.

Speaking from his home in Gloucester, where he has lived all his life, Mr Staley said that serving as an altar boy kept him going and he didn't intend to give it up just yet.

"All the years have gone by quite quickly, but I've never had a day away from serving," he said.

"I really enjoy it - I'm from a family of altar boys.

"My father was an altar boy and so were all five of my brothers at the church here in Gloucester.

"I've done it for as long as I can remember."

A spokesman for the Guinness Book of Records said: "If we receive proof that Mr Staley has served as an altar boy for 82 years he would indeed be a record breaker."


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