A FORMER model and James Bond actress has today been officially installed at Blackburn Cathedral.
New community canon Shannon Ledbetter, who appeared alongside Pierce Brosnan in the Tomorrow Never Dies, was inducted at a service conducted by the Bishop of Blackburn Rev Nicholas Reade and Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Christopher Armstrong.
Ahead of the service, Canon Ledbetter said: “It is wonderful to be in Blackburn.
"I’m really excited about this opportunity to work in the church as a community canon.
“I’m hoping to bring the Cathedral services into the community as well as working with Blackburn College and developing partnerships and relationships with diverse sections of the community.”
Among the congregation was Blackburn with Darwen Mayor Karimeh Foster.
Nationally there has been much debate about the role of women in the church, with the Blackburn Diocese traditionally an area of divided opinion.
In 2009 the Cathedral was criticised for supplying communion bread blessed by a man in case members of the congregation refused to accept the sacrament after a woman priest had consecrated it.
But Canon Ledbetter said she welcomes the challenge faced by women in the church.
She said: “Many women are ordained in the Church of England and have been for a number of years.
"I'm happy to embrace the challenge of changing people’s minds, people can only judge by my actions.
"I hope to fulfil the role well.”
Canon Ledbetter appeared on the covers of Just 17 and Good Housekeeping during her modelling career but said she had always been interested in the church.
She was first spotted by a talent scout waiting for a bus in London aged 21, and got the chance to star in the 1997 Bond film when a costume director friend called and asked her to wear a £250,000 PVC dress.
She describes it as a ‘high point’ of her previous career.
Since leaving modelling, she studied theology in the United States and Liverpool where she completed her PhD.
She was ordained in Liverpool in 2003.