Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Canon Sorry for Wedding 'Slip Up'

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Canon Sorry for Wedding 'Slip Up'

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Ivison

A vicar at the centre of a wedding "headbutting" storm insisted today that it was an accidental slip that caused the clash of heads with a photographer.

"I apologised immediately," said Canon Richard Smith of Billingham's St Cuthbert's Church.

He told the Evening Gazette that he was "disappointed and hurt" at allegations that he headbutted a wedding photographer at the weekend.

The Very Reverend Smith said the incident was sparked because bride Andrea Dawkins arrived 15 minutes late for the service.

Photographer Graeme Kitching was taking pictures of the bride arriving at the church.

Mr Smith, 57, who has spent 17 years at the church, said: "The bride was 15 minutes late so I told the photographer that he could finish taking photos after the service. He was very rude and aggressive to me.

"He said it was all my fault for double booking, but it was not my fault. It was the bride's fault for being late. I realised she was quite scatty at the rehearsals.

"I said to him: 'don't worry, calm down, there will be plenty of time after the service for more photos'.

"Then I slipped on the grass - my shoes didn't have any grips - and 18-stones plus plunged into him. My head hit him either on his chin or his chest, I'm not sure, and he was probably alarmed because I felt arms fluttering about at me but he may have been trying to steady himself.

"I didn't go down to the ground at all. I was wearing a white robe so there's no way I could have done a service if I'd been rolling around on the grass.

"I steadied myself and said sorry to him immediately for falling into him and nothing more was said about it. He was fine with me after the service.

"The accounts just don't match up. He seemed to understand what had happened, that I had slipped and fell into him. …

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