Chancellor's daughter remembered at christening service

THE baby son of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has been christened at an emotional service which also honoured the memory of his sister.

John Macaulay Brown, now six months old, was christened on Sunday at the same parish church where the funeral service for Jennifer Jane was held. The Chancellor’s wife, Sarah, revealed yesterday that the service was carried out by the same minister who baptised Jennifer, who died aged just ten days.

The couple sought permission for the christening to be carried out by the Rev Sheila Munro, despite her having left the North Queensferry church to take up a post as a Royal Air Force chaplain.

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Mrs Brown said that instead of her son receiving christening gifts, they had asked for donations to be given to a charity set up in his sister’s name.

"We invited anyone who asked us about a christening gift to make a donation to the Jennifer Brown Research Fund’s appeal to help mothers and babies in Fife," she said.

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"The Rev John Scott, who was conducting the service during the vacancy, kindly made it possible for Sheila to christen John, as she not only married us but baptised Jennifer."

The christening was held as part of the normal church service on Sunday morning.

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The Browns had invited 60 guests to John’s christening, all believed to be relatives.

None of Mr Brown’s political colleagues was invited to the service at the church which lies just a short walk from their Fife home.

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In an unusual step, Mr and Mrs Brown did not ask anyone to be John’s godparents.

Yesterday, a friend of the couple, who asked not to be named, said that the day had been filled with happiness for the family.

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She said: "It was a very special, very happy occasion. Gordon and Sarah were delighted when Sheila agreed to christen John, because she has been such a support to them since their daughter’s death.

"John was obviously the centre of attention, but they also made the day about Jennifer.

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"Instead of people buying christening gifts for John, they were asked to donate money to Jennifer’s fund.

"Both Gordon and Sarah have been overwhelmed by the amount of money that has been raised for charity in their daughter’s memory.

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"It is great that such goodness can come from an event so sad.

"But Sunday was not a day for being sad; it was a happy day for the family.

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"They decided to keep the christening service a family-only affair, but even then they had invited around 60 guests to the church.

"There may have been one or two very close friends, but they had decided not to ask anyone to be John’s godparents. The Church of Scotland does not require a baby to have godparents for a christening."

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Baby John was born by Caesarean section on Friday, 17 October.

He was named after the Chancellor’s father, the Rev Dr John Ebenezer Brown, a Church of Scotland minister, who died, aged 84, in December 1998.

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The couple’s first baby, Jennifer, died in January 2002. She was born prematurely weighing only 2lb 4oz.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for one of Mrs Brown’s closest friends, JK Rowling, would not say whether the Harry Potter author had attended the christening service.

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Rowling was one of the first people to visit Sarah in hospital after John was born.

The Chancellor, who is in the United States, was unavailable for comment yesterday. His wife and son are accompanying him on the business trip.