Son's surprise return from military service in Afghanistan

THE behaviour of some sons comes as little surprise to their mothers. But, when you think he s serving his country in Afghanistan yet he turns up in the middle of your ordination, your heart can be forgiven for stopping. For most priests and deacons ordin

THE behaviour of some sons comes as little surprise to their mothers. But, when you think he's serving his country in Afghanistan yet he turns up in the middle of your ordination, your heart can be forgiven for stopping.

For most priests and deacons ordination is the one of the most memorable events of their life, and without doubt the Rev Mary Jepp, from St Mary's Parish Church in Godmanchester, will never forget the day she became a deacon.

Her eldest son, who is serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, returned from Afghanistan only minutes before the Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell, ordained his mother last weekend.

Still in his desert kit, Private Robin Jepp arrived at Ely Cathedral after the ceremony had started. His mother, who had her back to the congregation, had no idea he was at the service until the Peace - the point in the middle of the service when members of the congregation greet each other.


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"He came forward and gave me a big hug," she said. "It was a highly emotional moment. He even left some desert sand on my white robes."

Robin Jepp, 20, who specialises in languages, speaks Pashtu, one of the national languages of Afghanistan. "I really enjoy my work with the 2 Para D Company," he said. "But it is great to be back in England and to see my mother today."

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He is home for just two weeks before returning to the front line. He hopes to get a place at Sandhurst next year.

His brother Toby, 18, who has just finished A-levels at Hinchingbrooke School, has just been accepted onto a violin-making course at Newark, Lincolnshire - one of only five such courses in the world, his proud mother told The Hunts Post.

Mrs Jepp, 52, was born in Canada but has lived half her life in England after marrying an RAF officer she met in northern Labrador, Canada. He now works for Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge.

Until March, she worked as a peripatetic special needs teacher in schools across north Cambridgeshire. They moved from Ramsey to Godmanchester to take up her new rôle.

"I followed my husband around for years. Now it's his turn, because stipendiary deacons have to move parishes when they are ordained."

Mrs Jepp, who comes from a devout Roman Catholic background, will give her first sermon in Godmanchester in two weeks' time. She has not yet chosen a subject.

Other deacons ordained at Ely on Saturday included Gita Bond, who will serve in The Ramseys - the parishes of St Thomas à Beckett and St Mary, Ramsey, and St Peter, Upwood.

The Bishop of Ely also ordained 11 priests at the service in Ely Cathedral, including Ann Peters-Wotherspoon, who serves in the parishes of Somersham, Pidley and Old Hurst.

The period close to the feast day of the Apostles St Peter and St Paul, celebrated on June 29, is traditionally the time when the Church of England ordains most of its deacons and priests.

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