VISITORS have been flocking to St Paul’s Church in Wokingham today to pay their respects to Wokingham teacher James Furlong.
The Holt School history teacher was one of three people to die in the terrorist attack in Reading’s Forbury Gardens on Saturday.
Lessons have been cancelled at The Holt today, and the school has been offering counselling to both pupils and staff.
Nearby St Paul’s has opened it doors for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in March so that residents can come in and light a candle, pray and talk to the clergy, who are all on site.
Guests included Wokingham town mayor Cllr Tony Lack, and his wife Claire.
Father Richard Lamey, Rector of the Reading Road church, said: “St Paul’s is open so that people can come and sit, be quiet, pray, and feel supported by the community and by God.
“Lighting a candle is a way of helping them pray.”
He felt it was important that the church was open for the school to use in this way.
“We’re working very much in partnership with the school,” he said.
“The way that people are coming in really large numbers is a sign that they need this and hopefully, they will be helped by it.”
He added: “we’re just trying to be good neighbours and we have to welcome people in as we always do for any situation – this feels particularly profound and particularly important to get it right and be there and for the church to be open and available in every way we can.”
Father Richard also paid tribute to Mr Furlong.
“I think of the people have had their lives turned upside down – his parents, his partner, his family his very close colleagues and students.
“They are people who were really, really missing him and are really upset.”
St Paul’s is open until 4pm today for silent prayer and reflection.