A LAY reader in the Esk Parishes has been awarded the Canterbury Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his 62 years of church service.

Melvyn Redgers, 86, has received the Canterbury Cross for services to the Church of England for outstanding, continuous service.

He became a reader at 24 and his service has mostly been focused on the Esk Parishes.

“The first thing I thought was ‘Why me?’,” he said.

“I feel very humbled to have received this award. I’m really glad that it recognises the ministry of readers in this diocese and indeed across the whole country.”

He very nearly missed the email confirming that he was to receive the award.

It went into his spam folder so he thought it was a hoax.

“I rarely check my spam folder so had not seen the original one from the Archbishop’s chaplain confirming I was to receive the award," he said. "I then received another email and realised that this was real.”

This is the fifth year that the Lambeth Awards has recognised the contributions made by people across the world to the church.

People from New Zealand and Kenya were also recipients of the awards this year.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, said: “It is wonderful that Melvyn’s ministry as a reader should be marked in this way. I give thanks for all the years he has served God in this county, faithfully bringing the Gospel message to so many people.”

“This Lambeth Award is also a great recognition of the ministry of all of our lay Readers who do so much, each day, to grow God’s Kingdom here in Cumbria.