On 7 August Gabriel and Maria, members of the British Orthodox congregation of St. Felix at Babingley, became United Kingdom citizens. The ceremony, which took place in the Council Chamber of County Hall in Norwich, was presided over by Mrs. Hilary Cox, Chairman of Norfolk County Council 2013-14 supported by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
Gabriel was born in Lisbon in Portugal and Maria was born in Novgorod in Russia, but their two children, Daniel & Stephanie were both born in Norfolk. Abba Seraphim and Trevor Maskery both attended the Citizenship Ceremony in support of the family.
On the north side of the churchyard at Babingley a straggling clump of self-seeded saplings had grown up round the remains of the old stoke-hole or boiler-house dating from the time when the church had a coal-fired central heating system. This had long since been disconnected although holes in the skirting board in the sanctuary are reminders of the former central heating pipes.
In April 2010 the collapsed remains of this as well as the saplings were cleared from the churchyard and the surrounding ground levelled, which has improved the general appearance and will make maintenance of the churchyard easier.
Gabriel and Maria were married in a civil service in Great Novgorod, Russia, in 2005 but following Gabriel’s baptism and chrismation into the Orthodox Church a sacramental church marriage was performed at St. Mary & St. Felix Orthodox Church at Babingley on 25 April 2010.