A river blessing in Calne led by a bishop and a pagan councillor was attended by eight mayors and up to 100 people.

The event organised by Councillor Robert MacNaughton, mayor of Calne Town Council, saw the Bishop of Ramsbury and a pagan officiator bless the River Marden.

Cllr MacNaughton believes that the river blessing heals the waters, which are alive along with all the rest of nature.

Cllr MacNaughton said: “I know rivers to be living beings, therefore they have their own consciousness and our consciousness can interact with theirs. 

“If we put out positive feelings into rivers, then they reharmonize themselves in terms of that positive energy. 

“If people put pollution into the rivers, they could become dead.

“Whilst we can't do anything about structural issues of the government, about water companies, what we can do is come to the rivers and say, we love you, you're fantastic, we need you.”

Cllr MacNaughton argued that the presence of so many local dignitaries proved that the health of rivers is a key common concern.

Not all agreed that the ritual literally healed the waters, but felt that the event drew attention to the importance of rivers and keeping them healthy.

The bishop, Right Reverend Dr Andrew Rumsey, said before donning his waders: “I think it is a symbolic act to encourage people to remember that the health of the river is really important to us.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Right Reverend Dr Andrew Rumsey

“Rivers are a mirror of our society, and if they are running like chicken soup then what does that say about us?”

PCSO Mark Cook started his shift early to attend. He said: “I don’t know a great deal about it but it is a nice little community event so I thought I would come along and be a part of it.”

However, some were a little more sceptical. Highworth Town Council deputy mayor, Councillor Anthony Houghton, said: “It did strike me as rather odd, but I'm just here for the support really.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Councillor Anthony Houghton

“I'm here to show support for the the parish council here in trying to forge an identity.”

Overall, attendees were impressed, with Chris and Anne who recently moved to Calne saying: “It was very good and interesting”, while another added: “This is very Wiltshire”.

After the blessing was Japanese drumming, then an impromptu Shinto ritual followed by Morris dancing.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Japanese drummers followed the ceremony

The day ended with a race of boats handmade by attending children, floating down the newly blessed stream.