WHEN a millionaire industrialist and his fiancée, a TV presenter
from China (left), asked to have their wedding in the
parish church of a former pit village, the Revd Neville Griffiths
took it all in his stride.
The guests included a former Prime Minister of Mongolia, the
head of China's Youth League, and the third most senior general in
the Chinese army; but Mr Griffiths, the Associate Priest at St
Stephen's, in Willington, Co. Durham, described it as "just another
day at the office".
The request came from Stuart Bromley, the Beijing-based owner of
27 mines, which employ 28,300 people, and his bride, Becky Zhao, a
broadcaster on CCTV, China's national network.
Mr Griffiths, a former chaplain at Durham University, who has
been assisting at St Stephen's for six years, explained: "Mr
Bromley's parents were married at St Stephen's. So were his
paternal grandparents, and they are buried in the cemetery. He has
never lived in Willington, but he comes every year to visit his
"It was all very straightforward. They brought all the necessary
paperwork from China. We went to see the diocesan registrar . . .
and the Chancellor said 'Yes.'. . .
"It was a straightforward Church of England wedding; the only
thing different was having a translator. Many of the congregation
had no English. There is no point trundling through a service if no
one knows what's going on."
After the service, Mr Bromley said: "[My roots] are very much
here in Willington."