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21 January 2022

The Ven. Michael Brotherton writes:

I WONDER how many of the good people of Portsmouth remember the visit of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Gazette, 31 December) to St Mary’s, Portsea, where I was Vicar for ten years. The date was 17 June 1989. His daughter arrived first from London. There was great excitement at his arrival. I met him at the gate, and when he entered the church, he was greeted with tumultuous applause by the whole congregation. We had a lively service with African input in a packed church of more than 1000 people. Afterwards, they dispersed to picnic in the church grounds, where the Arch mingled with the crowds.

He then led the congregation down Fratton Road, singing “Surrexit Christus Alleluia”, and dancing as we went. In those days, there were many pubs on Fratton Road, and people poured out of them to clap and shake his hand. At the bridge, he was picked up by a taxi, which took him to a waiting helicopter on Governors’ Green, in Old Portsmouth. The rest of the procession carried on singing, as we walked to attend an open-air eucharist with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

What a day! The excitement Archbishop Desmond brought with him was talked about for a long time.

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