Outdoor services commemorate Cumbria shooting victims

Whitehaven service
Image caption A message of sympathy from the Queen was read out at the Whitehaven service

Outdoor services have been held in Cumbria to commemorate the victims of gunman Derrick Bird.

Twelve people were killed during the taxi driver's rampage across west Cumbria on Wednesday.

Up to 1,000 people attended an evening service in the grounds of St Nicholas' Church in Whitehaven

Earlier, about 500 people gathered in heavy rain for hymns, prayers and one minute's silence near the beach in the village of Seascale.

People sheltered under umbrellas as the the vicar of Seascale, Rev John Woolcock, read out the names of all the victims.

Afterwards, one woman said: "We as a community want to be here together because we are united in our grief."

The Whitehaven service, organised by churches in the town, attracted a congregation of about 1,000 people, including civic dignitaries and the local MP.

It was led by the Rector of Whitehaven, the Rev John Bannister, who said that the past few days had been amongst the worst of his life.

However, the strength of the local community would enable it to heal itself, he said.

The service included a hymns, prayers, one minute silence, readings by representatives from the town's churches and an address by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcombe.

Bishop Newcombe paid tribute to local people, whom he described as "tough as teak wood, but gentle as lambs."

A candle was lit as the name of each of the 12 victims was read out.

There were also messages of sympathy from the Queen and the Prince of Wales, which were read out by the lord lieutenant of Cumbria.

Prince Charles wrote: "We would be so grateful if you could somehow convey our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the poor families whose lives have been torn apart in such gravely tragic circumstances.

"It is scarcely bearable that Cumbria has had to endure such renewed suffering, particularly after last November's floods and the recent coach accident. Our hearts go out to Cumbria."

The public gardens, which contain the ruins of the old church, are in the centre of Whitehaven, a short distance from the taxi rank where one of the shootings took place.

Earlier in the day, statements from Derrick Bird's family were read out in the town of Lamplugh, where one of his brothers was found dead.

The family said they did not know of any motives for his actions.

His sons Graeme and Jamie said: "We do not know why he committed these horrific crimes and we are both mortified by the sad events."

They described their father as "the nicest man you could ever meet".

Bird's surviving brother Bryan also expressed his shock and dismay.

"The loss of both of my brothers is devastating. They were both very caring, family people," he said.

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