Tributes to dedicated altar server who received honour from the Queen

Elderly man smiling at the camera while holding a lit candle

Paul Rayner died aged 80 - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Tributes have been paid to a long-serving altar server, who received formal recognition of his efforts from the queen just days before he died.

Paul Rayner, who first joined the choir of Norwich Cathedral in 1949 as a boy, was in the final cohort of the Cathedral Choir School.

In 1954, he left the choir and became a server at St George’s Church in Tombland, Norwich, as well as a member of the Guild of Servers of Norwich Cathedral.

Mr Rayner, who also married his wife in the cathedral, continued there as a server until 2020, when he became ill. Throughout his time as a server, he trained hundreds of young servers who all still speak very fondly of him.

He was also instrumental in enabling liturgical reform in the cathedral from the 1960s, supporting the introduction of Common Worship, and was head server for more than three decades.


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Mr Rayner never formally retired.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Norwich, said: "His examples of service, for more than 70 years of continuous service, and the number of lives he touched, and faith that he nurtured in his quiet and unassuming way is a model that will seldom be matched."

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Mr Rayner was one of four local Christians recognised by Her Majesty for their service to their communities. The giving of Royal Maundy Money by the queen is a centuries-old tradition, which is usually done in person. This year, the Maundy Money was sent in the post along with a personally signed letter from the queen.

Paying tribute to him, his family said: "He died a few days after reading his letter. He was proud to be receiving the Maundy Money. Faithfully serving Norwich Cathedral for over 70 years, he said the honour was 'totally unexpected'."

My Rayner died on January 21, 2021, aged 80.

He leaves behind his wife, Ann. He was also "loving" father to Catherine and Stephen, Nick and Amanda, Veronica and Robert, and "treasured" granddad of Alice, Ben, Oli, Alex, Louis, and Finlay.

- To view all our obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.

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