EIGHT new deacons have been ordained into the Church of England in a ceremony at Blackburn Cathedral.

And a further 17 are set to be unveiled next year as part of efforts to tackle falling numbers of clergy in East Lancashire.

Rev Dr John Darch, the Blackburn Diocese director of ordinands, said work was ongoing to ensure that there were people coming through into the clergy to replace aging vicars.

And he said that around 60 per cent of people applying to become a priest in this area were women.

He said numbers of women priests were rocketing as a ‘sense of balance’ begins to show in the make up of church leaders.

On Saturday eight new deacons, who will become priests in a year, were ordained. Last year the number was 15.

Among those taking part in the proceedings were David Bacon, from the Altham/Clayton-le-Moors parish, Andy Gray from St James, Clitheroe, Phil Hunt of Rishton and Janet taylor of St Laurence, Chorley.

Rev Darch said: “At the moment the falling number of clergy is very much a concern so these ordination ceremonies are always wonderful occasions.”

Bishop Nicholas Reade said: “Ordinations always mark a very happy weekend for the Diocese. At a time when we are eagerly looking for more stipendiary, and self-supporting priest and deacons, it’s very thrilling to see 15 people being ordained.

“Once again, we have a wide range of ages of people, bringing a rich variety of experiences to our parishes. I very much hope that as we look after and pray for those who are being ordained this year, others in the Diocese may discover a vocation to serve in the ordained ministry.”

Forty members of clergy have been lost in the Church of England in the past five years.

And Bishop John Goddard is now heading up a new taskforce in a bid to find a way to make the reduction in clergy work in East Lancashire.