John Whittingdale attended the service at St Lawrence Heritage Church to bless the new telescope and display boards which have been installed in the churchyard looking over the Blackwater estuary.

The blessing was conducted by the Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall. John is a co-Patron of the Friends of St Lawrence Church, along with Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP whose family still own a house locally.

John is pictured with Cllr Penny Channer, Nicholas Henshall and his wife, Christine, and Chairman of Essex County Council John Aldridge and his wife, Christine.