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Local Hero Honoured at British Pageant

The British Pageant was off to a very special start Tuesday 6 August, when Pageant President Stephen Kerr preluded the festivities with a special birthday tribute to ‘fighter’ Jacob Gray, 22, from Blackpool. It was the prospective missionary’s first venture outside in over eight months, as he’s been battling with potentially life-threatening septicemia for some time now.
 
Pageant President Stephen Kerr warms up the crowd
 
“I was humbled that hundreds and hundreds of people should be so caring and loving to someone they don’t know, and [we] thank God that he is alive,” said Linda Gray, Jacob’s mother. “We didn’t even think he’d get to twenty-one-and-three-quarters, let alone get to his twenty-second birthday. That in itself is a miracle, that he is here today.”
 
Gray explained that Jacob’s illness has reached nearly fatal levels. His nerves have been stripped and as a result his legs have been black from the knees down. But slowly, Gray said, the septicemia has released its grip on him. “Parts of him wake up - his hands have started to wake up and respond, he can now move his hips, and down to his knees.” Though it’s a challenging feat for Jacob and our family, Gray said, “he is whole in spirit and he is progressing, which is awesome.”
 
Gray explained what an incredible gift it was to witness the British Pageant as a family: “It’s truly magnificent to be reminded of our heritage and how many thousands of people went before us and sacrificed so much.
 
“To remind me of my debt to the Church, my debt to my Saviour, my debt to my priesthood leaders who have seen vision to put on this show for us so we can bring members of the Church and potential members of the Church to Jesus Christ. To feel the love and the truth of the gospel.”
 
Gray’s sentiments have been echoed by the many hundreds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have made the journey to Chorley to view and participate in the Pageant.
 
“I am so grateful to my foundations in this British Church,” Gray said. “I am incredibly proud of being British - of being Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish; and being able to be part of that cornerstone that made this Church the most glorious gift that anyone could give anyone else.”
 
Linda Gray’s strength and courage, much like her son’s, is easily seen by those around her. She explains simply: “This Church is my life!”

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