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Church members receive Maundy Money

In recent years, two members of St John the Divine Church in Willenhall have had the honour of receiving Maundy Money from the Queen in recognition for their exemplary community service.

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony, inspired by the Bible. On the night he was betrayed Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and commanded them to ‘Love one another’. By the thirteenth century, the Royal Family took part in similar ceremonies on Maundy Thursday. Henry IV started a new Maundy Thursday tradition of giving the same number of gifts as his age. For example, when he was forty he gave forty gifts. Charles II started giving out coins and the tradition of giving coins has remained.

Recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the service they have given to the Church and their community. At the ceremony, the monarch hands each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins and a white one contains silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the monarch’s age.

Alan Bastock from Willenhall received the Maundy Money on Thursday 18th April 2019 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Alan served for thirty one years in the local police force. Working across Coventry, he worked his way up through the ranks to Superintendent and Deputy Commandant at Ryton. He has received many awards in his life including a Long Service and Good Conduct Police Medal during his time in the police as well as a National Service Medal from when he was stationed in Singapore after the war.

Alan was the churchwarden at St John the Divine for many years and also served as Treasurer for forty-five years before retiring in 2018 (however he still helps out with banking!). Alan also runs a “Gut Support Group” in the local area for survivors and sufferers from cancer which has supported many people across the years. In addition, Alan has raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support by running annual Macmillan Coffee Mornings at St John the Divine.

Reflecting on the Royal Maundy Service, Alan says:

“Everything was perfect on the day, the sun shone brightly and all the Palace staff not only made us feel welcome but also very important! In the chapel we joined other recipients; all elderly and all like us appeared to be enjoying the day. The Queen arrived accompanied by Princess Eugenie. Her Majesty looked marvellous dressed in yellow with a matching hat and coat and an engaging smile. The service was led by the Dean of Windsor and a wonderful Chapel Choir. When the time came to present the Maundy Money the Queen’s procession included four local schoolchildren, the Military Knights of Windsor and the Yeoman of the Guard who carried the Maundy money on gold plates. One of my abiding memories of the day was the Queen’s smile that she saved for all of us and the smile she gave me when I said ‘thank you your majesty!’”

Gordon Walters received the Maundy Money in 2018 for his services to the local community in Willenhall, most notably helping to set up and run the Foodbank for the past nine years. Willenhall Foodbank is one of the busiest foodbanks in Coventry and Gordon frequently works behind the scenes collecting food from the Central Foodbank Hub, churches and schools after harvest to bring to Willenhall. Every Wednesday Gordon is at the Foodbank, setting it up, greeting people, serving food and generally caring for people’s needs above his own. Gordon also has been churchwarden of St John the Divine for two years.

Gordon says;

I went to the ceremony with my Grandson Keith. Unfortunately, no photographs were taken due to awful weather that day. We had a wonderful time, and watched the changing of the guard as we waited for her Majesty to arrive - the service was wonderful! After the service we received the Maundy Money!”

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