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’60s singer makes history in 900-year-old church

A 1960s singer has become the first female priest to celebrate Holy Communion in a 900-year-old church that is still without electricity.

The Settlers’ Cindy Kent, 75, made history at the historic stone-walled St Thomas the Apostle, which dates back to the late 11th century.

She caused a spark at the little church on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which has no running water and is lit by candles and oil lamps.

It holds mass one Sunday a month and for years clergy fought to keep female priests out to ‘maintain tradition’.

But when the Rev Tim Foreman retired, women were welcomed in.

The Rev Cindy, who moved to the island four years ago after retiring as a vicar in Barnet Whetstone, north London, became the first woman to celebrate Holy Communion at the church.

She said: ‘It was lovely. It is such a wonderful church with an interesting history. There were only about ten of us but it was such a joyful occasion.

‘And after the service one couple asked me to marry them. I do hope I am invited back.

‘I feel honoured and pleased that the barrier has been broken.

‘It’s been around for a long time and there are still churches that will not allow a woman to celebrate Holy Communion, and that is a point of sadness for me and for a lot of other women priests and men priests as well.

‘We are still ordaining people, men and women, who don’t agree with the idea that women can be priests and I think that’s sad in this age when we have so much equality in other areas.’

The priest, also a former radio host, was lead singer of ’60s pop-folk group The Settlers, and they had a hit with The Lightning Tree from children’s TV show Follyfoot.