Bells are to be rung and prayers offered every hour in Ledbury as the Team Ministry asks God to deliver the farming community from foot and mouth.

The Friday Prayer Day, on March 23, will take place from 9am to 5pm and be centred on St Michael and All Angels' Church.

Ledbury Rector Dr Colin Beevers said: "We will be praying for all our farmers, calling for an end to this terrible plague. It's an enormous tragedy we are facing."

Dr Beevers spoke of the blow not just to farming but to other businesses that depend on a healthy countryside, such as those in the tourist industry.

At least one member of Ledbury Team Ministry will be in the church throughout Friday Prayer Day, to offer prayers, support and guidance.

Dr Beevers said the rural community would not be forgotten between now and then as prayers would be said for them in church every day at 8am and 5pm.

In addition, members of the Team Ministry have been on the phone to farming families offering support, as they cannot call round in person because so much of the countryside is in quarantine.

Dr Beevers' appeal to faith and help from God is echoed by the former chairman of Herefordshire NFU, Gordon Gilbert of Canon Frome, who said: "I want everyone engaged in agriculture and its ancillary industries to pray that we will soon be delivered from this plague in our industry.

"With BSE, swine fever, TB, a winter of floods and now foot and mouth, many serious questions are being asked about our future."

Mr Gilbert said that as a Christian his faith helped him to carry on "in such trying times as we are in today".