Royal Marines padre offers spiritual aid to hurricane-hit islanders

Where there is despair, may we bring hope… Royal Marines padre the Reverend Stuart Rason delivered the first sermon in a British Virgin Islands church after Hurricane Irma caused widespread destruction.

40 Commando's padre joined Rector Ian Rock in St George's Episcopal Church in Road Town, Tortola, to bring spiritual relief to people in addition to the raw muscle and expertise of the British military aid effort following the devastating storm.

Those efforts were praised by Rector Ian and his congregation, who were joined by a small group of Royal Marines for the service.

The island may be at its worst, but the people are certainly at their best

Rev Stuart Rason, Chaplain of 40 Commando Royal Marines

The church, whose bells were re-hung by sailors from destroyer HMS London back in 1981, served as a refuge at the height of the storm; its strong walls, foundations and roof remained intact and helped shelter a large number of locals.

"The island may be at its worst, but the people are certainly at their best," said the Rev Rason after chatting with and comforting worshippers.

Next to the church is a small primary school which was badly damaged and is now unsafe.

Rector Ian has offered the church as an education centre until the school is repaired, allowing children to continue their learning.