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Memorial Service for Victorian Bushfire Victims

Tuesday, 31st March 2009

Memorial Service for Victorian Bushfire Victims

The Abbey held a memorial service for victims of bushfires in the Australian state of Victoria on Tuesday 31st March.

Bushfires which ravaged the Australian state of Victoria in February 2009 resulted in the country’s highest-ever loss of life. The fires which started on Saturday 7th February claimed 210 lives and destroyed over 2000 properties.

Memorial Service

A Memorial Service for the Victims of the Bushfires in Victoria, held in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 31st March 2009 at 6.30pm, was attended by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, and his wife, Ms Thérèse Rein.

The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and HE The Rt Hon Helen Liddell, British High Commissioner to Australia, were also present.

Archbishop’s message

His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, sent a message in which he said:

We have watched helplessly as this devastation has spread and the casualties mounted but we have also watched with admiration the way in which emergency services and local people have collaborated in saving life, limiting damage and restoring stability. The Australian people may be justifiably proud of the way in which they have responded to the tragedies.

The Bidding

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said:

Our minds and hearts are full with the bushfires in Victoria. We shall commemorate those who lost their lives and commend them to the care and keeping of Almighty God.


An Address was given by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP.


Penny Downie from Queensland, an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, read The Train Journey by Julian Wright.

Thérèse Rein read Isaiah 42: 1-9.

HE The Rt Hon Helen Liddell read Romans 8: 35-39.


A sermon was preached by the Rt Revd. George Browning, former Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.


Prayers were led by the Revd. Michael Macey, Minor Canon of Westminster, the Revd Kevin Scully (New South Wales), the Revd Jenny Petersen (Victoria), the Revd Peter Macleod-Miller (Victoria), Sister Judith CSC (New South Wales), Chaplain of Westminster Abbey, and the Rt Revd David Farrer (Victoria), former Bishop of Wangaratta.

Act of Remembrance

Flowers were laid at the Innocent Victims’ Memorial by The Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister of Australia


David Williams (Queensland) played the didgeridoo before the service.

During the service the New South Wales soprano Marte Grimson sang He shall feed his flock (G.F. Handel) and the South Australian cellist Thomas Rann played Sarabande from the Suite no 3 in C(J.S. Bach).

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir conducted by Robert Quinney, Sub Organist. The organ was played by James McVinnie, Assistant Organist.

Order of Service

Click to view the Order of Service (PDF, 212 KB)

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It’s very hard not to be enthusiastic working at the Abbey. If this place doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.


Valerie - Foundation Director

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