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Rockings baby joy as tradition continues

Posted onPosted on 11th Feb

A unique service at St Mary’s Church, Blidworth, celebrated a first this year.

The Rockings service — which celebrates the baby boy born in the village nearest to Christmas Day — saw the traditional event feature the same family.

For newborn Ozzy John Kenneth Cope followed in the footsteps of his five-year-old brother, Lucas.

And in a further touching moment, among the visitors to the church for the service was a man who was ‘rocked’ way back in 1929.

St Mary’s Church was full of families for the Rockings service — described by participants as an absolute joy.

The community of Blidworth and surrounding villages welcome visitors from great distances, including overseas, to the annual event.

Church reader Marilyn Brown explained the background to the service, held this year on Sunday, 2nd February.

“St Mary’s is the only church in the UK, and possibly the world, to celebrate Jesus’ presentation in the temple at Candlemas in this manner,” she said.

“The tradition is that the baby boy born nearest to Christmas Day is invited to be the Rockings baby.

The Cope family with rockings baby Ozzy and, above, Dean of Southwell, the Ven Nicola Sullivan.

“We liaise with the local midwife to enable us to approach the family. Most Blidworth families are delighted to be asked; it is a great honour.

“This service was reintroduced in 1922 and we are looking forward to our very special Centenary celebration in 2022.

“The baby is usually baptised on the Sunday before the Rockings service, and this year’s baby – Ozzy – was baptised by the Rev Canon Tony Evans.

“Ozzy’s five-year-old brother, Lucas, was a Rockings baby and this is a first, we feel, where two brothers are ‘rocked’ from one family.”

Ozzy’s parents, Bryonny and Luke, along with their other children, Lucas, Poppy and Darcie, and extended family members attended.

The crib was decorated again by Stephen Fox, and the name of each child is inscribed in gold lettering on special wooden boards at back of the church.

Marilyn added: “Each year many families return with previous children who have been ‘rocked.’

“Six children came this year, and what was most special was that Charles Alan Baxter, who was rocked in 1929, was here, and received warm applause.”

Over the years many special guests from the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham have been invited to rock the baby, including Bishop Paul Williams, Archdeacon David Picken, and this year, the Dean of Southwell, the Ven Nicola Sullivan.

Marilyn concluded: “Dean Nicola gave a short address, which really captured the congregation as she spoke of previously working as a midwife; she related her work of listening to the heartbeat of babies and to the heartbeat of God in each of our lives.

“She then presented a Children’s Bible and candle to Ozzy’s parents.”