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Schoolchildren formed a guard of honour at the funeral of a parish priest who died after a long illness.

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Father John King, who was the parish priest at Our Lady of Compassion in Upton Park died on January 14 aged 74.

A funeral Mass was held at the church last Wednesday, led by Bishop Thomas, and was followed by burial at Rippleside Cemetery in Barking.

More than 250 youngsters from the nearby St Edwards RC Primary School lined the street to pay tribute to the priest who was a regular part of their school life as the church was full of mourners.

Chris Mabey, head teacher at the school said: “He was parish priest for 23 years and he knew most of the families of the children here at St Edwards and those that have gone on to St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s.

“We could not take the whole school to Mass but thought the Guard of Honour would be a fitting way to pay tribute to him.”

Father John played an active role in the life of the school where he was Vice Governor on the Chair of Governors and regularly met with staff, many of whom lived in the parish.

He was born in Barkingside in 1937 and was educated at St Ethelburga’s in Barking and at St Bonaventure’s in Forest Gate.

After studying for the priesthood he was ordained in June 1963. He served as an assistant priest at Benfleet and Leyton and as a parish priest at Silvertown and Hainault before his appointment to Upton Park in 1989.

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