DEVOTED church members have been honoured with long service awards from the Bishop of Gloucester.

The inaugural awards were presented to key players in Gloucestershire's church community in a packed service in Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday (February, 8).

The 23 recipients, honoured for their dedication to the diocese, parishes, chaplaincies and church schools, will now be known as the Company of St Kyneburga,

Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Michael Perham, explained: “The Company of St Kyneburga is a group of people who have served the Diocese of Gloucester with distinction in a way that many wish to honour.

“Members of the company, having been nominated by others, are admitted to the company by me.”

Graham Smith, of Wotton-under-Edge, was recognised for his work in retirement as chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance, as a member of the Bishop’s Council, of the Inter-Diocesan Finance Forum and the General Synod.

Locally the former bursar of Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School is active in his parish and was the first Lay Chair of the newly created Wotton Deanery.

Mary Davies, who has lived in Hawkesbury Upton for over 30 years, was welcomed into the company for her commitment to church duties during these years.

Twice serving as a church warden, she has also been a standard bearer for the British Legion since 1998 and regularly organises charity lunches and meals on wheels.

Her incumbent described her as being a very valuable part of the church’s life in Hawkesbury.

Awards were also presented to Cirencester-based Jim Harris, who has previously served ministry in Cam and Stinchcombe, and former Bishop’s visitor to church schools in the Hawkesbury and Wotton deanery, Alison Shaw.

The group is named after Kyneburga, co-foundress and abbess in the eighth century of the first religious community at what is now Gloucester Cathedral.

By taking her name, the company seeks to remind members that they are the latest in a long line – going back some 1300 years – of people who have built, maintained and enriched the life of the church in Gloucestershire.

The Cathedral’s chancel was filled with the county’s religious great and good for the ceremony, which will be held close to St Kyneburga’s Day, on June 25, in future years.