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Blackburn Cathedral verger is hospitalised after assault

09 January 2015


A SUSTAINED assault has left the head verger of Blackburn Cathedral with two broken ribs, elbow injuries requiring surgery, and lesions to the head.

Mark Pickering, the Dean's Verger, was "repeatedly hit and kicked" on Monday afternoon, the Dean, the Rt Revd Christopher Armstrong, confirmed on Wednesday.

Another member of staff intervened, and the police were called. A 24-year-old man, who was known to the cathedral team, was later arrested and has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

"It is very rare to have an attack of this violence," Dean Armstrong said. "I have not known anything like this in my 14 years at the cathedral. But cathedrals are public places, and all sorts of people gather and visit for a variety of reasons. We would not want to stop that, but we have to protect our staff."

Current security arrangements were "adequate", he said, but there would be a review in the wake of the attack.

Mr Pickering, who is 36, and has a young family, has worked at the cathedral for 12 years. The Dean said that he had a "huge reputa- tion locally and nationally as being a sympathetic and caring person".

He said: "I would like to pay tribute to the vergers of all cathedrals and places of worship, because they really are frontline troops in an increasingly difficult situation."

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