A real romance in church

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Looking forward to married life, Pete Atkins and the Revd Lesley HardingWednesday 29 February was a morning when Revd Lesley Harding celebrated a Holy Communion at the parish church where she serves as Priest-in-Charge, St Barnabas, Hattersley, in the north-east of our diocese. It was also, of course, that leap year day of great significance to sweethearts - the date when a woman can feel emboldened to follow tradition and ask a man to marry her. And that is precisely what Lesley did, as she explains: "Directly after the service I did indeed, in front of everyone, ask my boyfriend Pete to marry me, presenting him with a gold wrist watch. He said 'yes', and then put a diamond solitaire ring on my finger. There were many 'ooohs' and 'ahhs' and much joyful surprise.

“After the deed was done we partook of some rather nice bubbly with the congregation, which was actually a joint one with people from nearby St Michael’s in Mottram.

“Both Pete and I wanted to share this important event within the context of our church family. The wedding is set for 20 July 2013, and the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, has kindly agreed to officiate."

Lesley’s betrothed is Pete Atkins who is also a committed Christian. He is a licensed lay minister currently living in the West Midlands.

The marriage proposal came as a surprise to most of the congregation, but not to Pete. Lesley confessed: “I was delighted to be the one proposing, but it was actually done at Pete’s request because he is rather romantic and wanted something that was memorable.”

The couple have known each other for a year.