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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2006, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Priest celebrates 100th birthday
The Reverend Kingsley Laws
Mr Laws celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday
A clergyman in Somerset has returned to the pulpit at his local church in Wells to celebrate his 100th birthday.

The Reverend Kinglsey Laws, who officially retired in 1979, hoped to make history by being the oldest Church of England cleric to take a service.

Due to his failing eyesight, he conducted the service at St Thomas's and Wells with Horrington from memory.

Mr Laws said: "I enjoyed it very much, it's a very friendly congregation and I've had a most wonderful week."

He said he made a couple of mistakes as "the service is always changing a little bit and it's different from how I remember it, but I think I managed pretty well."

The Reverend Denys Goodman, 82, who attended the service, said: "It was inspirational, encouraging and very well received."

Party Loving

Church secretary Marion Burton said he jumped at the chance to celebrate his birthday by conducting the mass.

"He thought it was a wonderful idea. He loves a party and loves people around him. He's very, very excited," she added.

Mr Laws turned to the cloth at the age of 50 when he retired from being a policeman in Kenya and Fiji.

He was ordained in Salisbury Cathedral in 1957 and served in churches across Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

"We think it must be unique that someone this old is taking a service," Mrs Burton said.

A Church of England spokesman said it had no way of knowing if Mr Laws was the oldest priest to take a service, but it was "highly likely".




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