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'Honouring the Fallen', at St. Bride's, has long had further-reaching connotations than the annual paying of respects to the war dead and the pledging of support to those in the armed forces who still serve.
Although 'Fleet Street' is now little more than a generic term for the UK press, our church remains the spiritual home of the media. Countless journalists, camera crew and support personnel, both staff and freelance, risk, and lose, their lives every year in their quest to deliver news from front lines and war zones. Thus, our commemorative service for journalists this week welcomed a full complement of media representatives, from editors and executives past and present, including Robin Esser, current Daily Express Editor Hugh Whittow and Sunday Express Editor Martin Townsend, 'i' Editor Oliver Duff, and News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks; and reporters and broadcasters retired and still active, including the Mail on Sunday's Sarah Oliver and Danae Brook; all of whom gathered to reflect, to remember and to mourn.
In her opening address, the Rector asked us to hold in our prayers those currently held captive,or whose fate is unknown. She praised the dedication and commitment of investigative journalists, and reminded us that the news is often brought to us at terrible cost: not only to those journalists who pay with their lives, but also to their families, colleagues and friends.
David Dinsmore, Chief Operating Officer of News UK, read from St. John's Gospel chapter 8, concluding with the apophthegm 'the truth will set you free'.
A poem entitled 'War Zone', composed by Michael Brett, a former press officer in Bosnia Herzegovina, was delivered by 'i' Editor Oliver Duff.
ITV News Social affairs Editor Penny Marshall read from a searingly honest address given by the late Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin, about the reality of covering a war, and what the journalist's unglamorous and often life-threatening mission really is. She was followed by BBC Radio 4 'Today' Programme presenter Sarah Montague, who gave her own humble and moving address acknowledging the safety of the broadcasting studio, and the downright dangerous work done by those who bring the news for them to present.
A poignant programme of music directed by Matthew Morley included Ralph Vaughan Williams's 'O taste and see'; Henry Purcell's 'Remember not, Lord, our offences'; and 'Pie Jesu', arranged by Maurice Duruflé.
The reception held afterwards, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on New Bridge Street, was sponsored by News UK, dmg media, the Independent, the Evening Standard, the Telegraph Media Group, the Guardian Media Group, the Financial Times, the BBC and ITN.