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Orlando, Florida — you are in our hearts

Date added: 1 July 2016

We are devastated by the terrible events in Florida over the weekend. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of you who have been affected.

With strong support from the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, we held a vigil on Exeter Cathedral Green at 18:30 on Friday 17th. For the first time in history, a rainbow flag flew over the Cathedral, at half-mast.

It was a very moving occasion, with more than 250 attenders.

The event was launched by the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Cynthia Thompson.

Other speakers, in order, were

  • Michael Halls of Intercom
  • the Right Honourable Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter
  • Dr Jonathan Draper, the Dean of Exeter Cathedral
  • Shaun Sawyer, the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police
  • Nate Burnikell, President of the Exeter University LGBTQ+ Society
  • County Councillor Barry Parsons, Cabinet Member for Equality and for Performance
  • Shirley Brewer of LGBTransaction, and
  • Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall.

Two members of the public, Julia Boas and Richard Smith, then read the names of the 49 dead. A minute's silence was followed by thirty seconds of communal cheering in honour of the dead, and in commitment for the future.

The Spectrum LGBT+ Community Choir then sang two deeply moving songs, after which we fell silent while the Cathedral bell solemnly tolled 49 strokes.

We are deeply grateful to all our speakers, and to all the supporters of the event. Between you, you made the occasion unforgettable.

There is extended news coverage, with photos and videos, at www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2016-06-17/exeter-honours-victims-of-orlando-shooting/. Thank you, ITV Westcountry, for covering this important event so well!