A senior church figure has helped to make a heartfelt wish come true for an 87-year-old Winchester care home resident.
Bill Lanfear was the centre of attention at Colten Care’s Abbotts Barton as the Bishop of Basingstoke, The Right Reverend David Williams, came to perform a rare confirmation service to welcome him as a full member of the Church of England.
Retired engineer Bill spoke of his joy at attaining what he called a ‘state of amazing grace’, adding: “Being confirmed means a great deal to me. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time and I was very much looking forward to it.”
The Bishop’s personal visit to lead the ceremony followed a request by The Reverend Karen Kousseff, Rector of St Bartholomew’s Church, Hyde, who leads monthly communion for residents at Abbotts Barton.
In a series of visits and discussions in recent months, Karen prepared Bill for confirmation by strengthening his understanding of faith and Christian responsibilities.
“She has been very good to me,” said Bill, who has lived at Abbotts Barton for two years. “I can’t praise her enough for helping me towards confirmation.”
Rector Karen said: “It’s lovely and joyful to see Bill confirmed and it’s unusual to have a service like this in a care home.”
The ceremony was attended by more than a dozen fellow residents and featured prayers, hymns, readings and a sermon.
To mark his initiation into full church membership, Bill received the ritual laying of hands by Bishop David, conferring the sacrament of confirmation.
Originally from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, Bill said he was not brought up in a religious family and was only christened at the age of 21 so he could get married in church.
He said confirmation was not something mentioned to him at the time and it only became a heartfelt wish as he got older.
Bishop David said: “Every generation has spiritual needs, something we should always value. People ask many spiritual questions as they get older and confirmation acts as a public statement of faith. It’s clear that Bill has sought to live a life committed to faith since he was in his early 20s. He, like the other residents here at Abbotts Barton and in care homes elsewhere, contribute massively to our sense of community.”
During his career, Bill was a senior quality engineer for Westland Helicopters in Yeovil and he and his wife Christine came to live in Hampshire eleven years ago. Christine lives in Alresford.
Kirsty Sawyer, Companionship Team Leader at Abbotts Barton, said: “It was wonderful to host and celebrate Bill’s confirmation. We do our very best to help make our residents’ wishes come true whatever these might be. In Bill’s case, we are honoured and privileged to have supported him on his spiritual journey and do our bit to help him find his state of grace.”