FIVE people from the Henley area were presented with Maundy money by the Queen in recognition of their service to
FIVE people from the Henley area were presented with Maundy money by the Queen in recognition of their service to the community.
Marion Pope, Christine Wood, Richard Lloyd, Chips Gell and Bob Spencer-Harper were honoured at the Royal Maundy service held at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Thursday last week.
It was the first time in more than 400 years that the ceremony has been held in the city.
Her Majesty, who was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, presented 87 men and 87 women, to correspond with her 87th year, with two purses of money to mark the occasion.
The red purse contained a £5 coin and a 50p coin commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. This represents the original medieval gift of food and clothing.
The white purse held the traditional Maundy money in the form of silver one, two, three and four penny pieces equalling 87 pence.
The recipients were retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of service to the Church and the community in the diocese of Oxford.
Mrs Pope, of Eastview Road, Wargrave, said: “Just over a month ago I had a letter from Buckingham Palace, which said I was going to be a recipient of the Maundy money.
“I could not believe it. I thought that perhaps it was a joke and I went a bit wobbly at the knees when I realised that it was not.”
She said Rev John Cook, the vicar of St Mary’s Church in Wargrave, had asked parishioners for names of people who deserved to be recognised for services to the church and community.
“Christine has worked at Piggott Junior School and was also the churchwarden for a time,” she said.
“Richard is one of the church trustees and is also an organist and myself and my husband do readings at church services. We got married at St Mary’s and have both been in the choir.
“I have also worked with scouting in the village, with the school and as a member of the parish council.”
Mrs Pope said attending the service was a “wonderful” experience.
“It was very cold but the sun shone for us and the organisation of it all was absolutely fantastic,” she said.
“On the day we had to be there early and our companions went into Christ Church before us then we went across in alphabetical order.
“The Queen was amazing — she looked absolutely wonderful in a blue outfit with hat and coat.”
Mrs Pope said there was a lot of deliberating over her own outfit, adding: “I finally decided upon the outfit I wore when my middle son got married 26 years ago.
“It was only the second time I have worn it but it was not too hot and not too cold. Navy is the in colour at the moment so that was good.”
Mr Lloyd, from Hare Hatch, has been involved with St Mary’s for more than 30 years.
He performs a number of roles, including administration, grass- cutting, playing the organ occasionally and singing in the choir.
Mr Lloyd said: “It was completely unexpected and out of the blue to receive the letter from Buckingham Palace. My first reaction was why me but when I learnt more about why this practice continues and why it is so important, I thought it was very fitting.
“The day was amazing. My wife Barbara was my companion and she sat behind me. I enjoyed being part of it and talking to the other people who were there as you realise how much goes on behind the scenes.
“The service itself was wonderful, with lovely music and two choirs and an organ. It just shows that what is important to us is also important to the Queen and it does not matter that it is an old-fashioned tradition.”
Mrs Wood, of Purfield Drive, Wargrave, said she felt humbled to be nominated.
“I knew the service happened but I never ever imagined I would be part of it,” she said. “It was very special and I think the three of us linked to St Mary’s felt the same.
“I have never seen the Queen that close. Everyone always says how radiant she looks and she truly did. She was so gracious and when she said ‘well done’ she looked you right in the eye with a lovely smile.”
Mrs Wood, who was accompanied by her friend Rosie Creedon, plans to compile a souvenir book to remember the day.
“It was a fantastic day all round and I will cherish the memories of it forever,” she said.
Churchwarden Mr Gell, 78, has been a member of Ewelme Church since moving to the village nearly 20 years ago. He is also a trustee of the Friends of Ewelme Church and organises the annual village fete.
He said: “I just do what I can for people in the village so I was absolutely knocked sideways at being chosen. I actually thought it was a joke when my wife brought the envelope from Buckingham Palace to me. We both laughed and I really thought it was one of those scams. It definitely took a while to get my head round it.”
Mr Gell, a retired head of purchasing, was accompanied by his wife Sue. He said he would keep the money as an heirloom for his children and grandchildren.
Mr Gell, who attended the Queen’s coronation, said meeting her was “a brilliant occasion, absolutely amazing and very moving”.
Mr Spencer-Harper, from Stoke Row, has been secretary of the village chapel for 30 years and chairman of Stoke Row News for even longer.
He also helped fund-raise for the Samaritans for about 20 years and provided transport to Nettlebed surgery for nearly 10 years.
Mr Spencer-Harper, who was accompanied by his wife Angela, said: “It was a very touching and moving service and it was lovely to see the Queen looking so well. It was a privilege, an honour and something to treasure for life.”
The 80-year-old retired sales manager, said: “I like to help others who may need it in some form or another because we are very privileged to live here in a community we enjoy.”
After the service, the Queen dined at Oriel College, while the recipients ate in the Great Hall of Christ Church College.
The tradition of the Royal Maundy service dates back to the 13th century and has biblical origins, echoing the story of Christ washing the feet of his disciples shortly before his death. Initially the sovereign gave money to the poor and washed recipients’ feet. Foot-washing ended with James II in the 18th century.
Charles I was the last monarch to carry out the ceremony in Oxford in 1643 when his court was established there during the Civil War.