SADNESS touched every part of West Somerset and Exmoor this week as communities the length and breadth of the district paid their respects and tributes on the death of the Queen after 70 years as the country’s sovereign.

Church bells tolled, prayers were said, candles lit, floral tributes laid, books of condolence opened, and civic leaders spoke movingly on how Her Majesty had touched their communities.

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Floral tribute in Wellington

Council meetings were cancelled and many sporting and social events and other activities were postponed as a mark of respect.

And then, public proclamations were read to mark the accession of King Charles III in a tradition dating a thousand years.

Minehead Mayor Cllr Andrew Kingston-James said: “Her Majesty the Queen earned the affection of generations all over the world and across the Commonwealth.

“She was the longest serving monarch in United Kingdom history, one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in the Second World War.

“We give thanks as a nation and a kingdom, for the extraordinary life of Her Majesty the Queen.

“On behalf of all residents here in Minehead we offer our heartfelt condolences to all her family at this very sad time.”

Porlock Parish Council chairman Cllr Chris Wood said it was ‘with great sadness’ that the village received the news of the Queen’s death.

Cllr Wood said: “This brings to an end an era that has been witness to great change and the nation has lost a vital stabilising force and an exemplar of what it means to serve unstintingly throughout an entire life.

“We mourn her loss and our thoughts and prayers are with His Majesty King Charles III, his Queen Consort, and the members of the Royal Family at this difficult time.”

Williton Parish Council chairman Cllr Peter Payne offered condolences to the Royal Family and said: “Her duty, service, and devotion to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth was unparalleled.

“We have lived in a truly golden Elizabethan age, the like of which we will never see again.”

A book of condolence for Williton residents to sign was placed in the Parish Office, in Killick Way, which is open 10 am to 12 noon Monday to Saturday, or by appointment.

Floral tributes were being laid at the memorial shelter in Williton War Memorial Recreation Ground, with residents requested to leave flowers unwrapped and not in cellophane.

The flowers will be removed on the morning after the funeral and composted to be used to plant a commemorative tree in the parish.

On Sunday, September 18 everyone is invited to gather at the Memorial Ground at 7.45pm for the National one minute silence to mark the Queen’s passing at 8pm, followed by the National Anthem.

Somerset West and Taunton Council also opened a books of condolence at offices in West Somerset House, Williton, while Somerset County Council opened them in County Hall, Taunton, and every public library until Tuesday, when they will be archived in the Somerset Heritage Centre.

Dulverton Mayor Cllr Christine Duberry said: “On behalf of the people of Dulverton we send our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family at this sad and difficult time.

“As our monarch she has shown unwavering commitment to her family, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth.

“Her wisdom and grace will be her everlasting legacy.”

Watchet Town Council chairman Cllr Olivia Campbell said: “She had been a constant in my life, and I thank her on behalf of myself, the town council, and the people of Watchet for her unwavering devotion to public office.

“She was a much-loved head of a family who will need the support of the nation while they both grieve and carry on with their public duties.”

A book of condolences will remain open in Watchet Visitor Centre until Tuesday between 10 am and 3 pm.

Flowers of condolence were being laid at Watchet’s War Memorial, in Harbour Road.

A ‘moment of reflection’ will be held on Sunday, on the eve of the Queen’s funeral, led by Cllr Campbell,

It will take place at 7.55 pm at the Jubilee Stone, outside Watchet Boat Museum, in Harbour Road.

Dunster Parish Council chairman Cllr Douglas Challoner said: “Her duty, service, and devotion to the people of this country and the Commonwealth was truly exceptional.”

A Dunster book of condolence has been placed in the village hall for residents to sign daily between 10 am and 3 pm and floral tributes were being laid in the Village Gardens, again with a request for them to be left unwrapped.

The parish council will remove the flowers the day after the funeral and compost them to plant a commemorative tree.

Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Annie Maw said: “We have lost one of the greatest people of our age.

“On behalf of the people of Somerset, I would like to offer my most sincere sympathy to her family who, we must remember, have lost a beloved, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

“As a nation, we too, have lost a person without whom life will never be the same.

“We must now repay her trust by acting with the dignity and respect which she would have expected and which she deserves.

“During her long life she has set us an exemplary example of devoted service to us all within the Commonwealth.

“Against so many odds, her message has always been one of peace, unity, and partnership.

“We have been immeasurably privileged to have her as our Queen and sovereign for so many years. We now wish to welcome and support her son, Charles, as our King. “From the people of Somerset, Long Live the King.”

Wiveliscombe Town Council chairman Cllr Roger Wilson said: “Her duty, service, and devotion to the people of this country and the Commonwealth was truly exceptional.”

A book of condolence for residents to sign has been placed in Wiveliscombe House, in The Square, which is open 10 am to 1 pm on week days.

Floral tributes being laid in the town’s Jubilee Gardens, with residents requested to leave them unwrapped.

The flowers will be removed on Tuesday to be composted and used to plant a commemorative tree in the gardens.

Bridgwater and West Somerset Conservative Association president Julie Nicholson said: “There are no words to express the sadness we feel at the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

“At this challenging time for us all, we give thanks to a great Queen who has been the backbone of this country for 70 years, whatever the troubles and difficulties faced both home and abroad.

“She has dedicated her life to the service of her country. At this time, political differences are put aside as we all mourn her passing.

“In paying tribute to Her Majesty, the love and expression of thanks from the people of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth at her Platinum Jubilee say more than words.

“She has played a pivotal part in the history of the British people.”

Sedgemoor District Council chairman Cllr Alan Bradford, said: “Grace, wisdom, and dignity have been her lifetime watchwords.

“We have so much to thank her for over the 70 years during which Her Majesty led with such loyalty.

“On behalf of Sedgemoor, I send our personal and heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family who are coming to terms with the loss of a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.”

Books of condolences were also opened in Minehead’s three parish churches, St Michael’s Church, North Hill, St Andrew’s Church, Wellington Square, and St Michael the Archangel, in Alcombe.

The bells of St Michael’s were rung at 4 pm on Saturday in celebration after the proclamation of King Charles was read, and the flag atop the church was raised to full mast until the next day when it returned to half-mast until after the Queen’s funeral.

The Local Proclamation for Somerset - the official local announcement of the Queen’s death and acknowledgement of the commencement of the King’s new reign, was read by the High Sheriff of Somerset, Jennifer Duke, in front of the Market House, in Taunton town centre, on Sunday.

For mental health charity Step One, which provides services across the Devon area of Exmoor, the Queen’s death also saw the loss of its Royal patron.

Andy Stark, Interim Chief Executive of Step One Charity, said: “Having the patronage of The Queen was a great honour and huge support for us, especially when we were first established as a relatively small charity in Devon.

“The Queen’s support of Step One was unwavering as we evolved and we remain exceptionally proud of our strong relationship over very many years. Her patronage always gave us a mark of quality and credibility, and we will maintain those high standards in the future as a mark of respect.”

The Rt Rev Michael Beasley, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Rt Rev Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, said: “On behalf of the Diocese of Bath and Wells and the people of Somerset, Bishop Ruth and I would like to express our sorrow at the news of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

“When she was just 21, the future Queen Elizabeth said ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service’.

“Today, her long life has come to an end.

“We give thanks for her life. A life of service and daily steadfastness in which the light of Jesus Christ has shone throughout the years. We now commend her to His care and keeping.

“For almost all of us, we cannot recall life before the Queen’s steady, consistent presence among us, and we are reeling at her loss.

“Our churches are open for everyone. To light a candle, say a prayer, sign a book of condolence, lay some flowers, talk to someone about your feelings and thoughts. We are here for you.

“Her loss will be felt most heavily by her family and we remember them in our prayers in the coming days and weeks.”

Updates on services in Somerset to mark the life of Queen Elizabeth II will be posted on the diocesan website.

Pupils of Old Cleeve First School have been reflecting and remembering the Queen’s life and the school has opened two books of condolences, one for the children to add their own pictures, prayers, messages, and poems, and the other for the Old Cleeve community to contribute. The books will later be sent to Buckingham Palace.

The county council has said that critical services, such as social care will continue to be delivered on the newly announced Bank Holiday on Monday to mark the day of the Queen’s funeral, and planned weddings will able to go ahead, but most other buildings and services will be closed, including County Hall reception, the contact centre, and all libraries

Highway works will be suspended except for any emergencies, and schools and further education settings will be closed.

One event which organisers have decided will go ahead on Sunday, is the Dulverton Trail Fun Run and Canicross, with those taking part holding a minute’s silence at the beginning of the race to show their respect and honour the Queen’s memory.

A National Moment of Reflection is being held at 8pm on Sunday and across West Somerset and Exmoor, people wanting to pay their respects to Her Majesty the Queen are being encouraged to mark the occasion in their homes, on their doorsteps, and with neighbours in their local communities by observing a one-minute silence.