Going to Windsor to see the Queen

PENSIONERS who were nominated to receive Maundy Money from the Queen have described the experience as “marvellous, uplifting and gratifying”.

Four people from the Oxford Diocese were selected to be part of a group of 92 men and 92 women from across the UK to take part in the service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on Maundy Thursday. They were Dr Anna Thomas-Betts, Madeleine Gilpin, Bede Gerrard and the Revd John King.

The Queen in Windsor on Maundy Thursday 2018 Photo: Emma Sheppard/Windsor Express

Every year the Queen commemorates Maundy Thursday by offering alms to retired pensioners recommended by clergy in recognition of their service to the Church and the community.

Dr Anna Thomas-Betts, Church Warden of the Langley Marish parish in the Burnham and Slough Deanery, was on General Synod representing Oxford from 1990 to 2015, voting for the ordination of women both to the priesthood and the episcopate. She has been involved in many national and local Church groups and on the governing body of three theological colleges. She has also been a chair of the diocesan interfaith group, a founder member of the race group and responsible for monitoring immigration centres locally and nationally.

She says: “I found the whole experience, from being recommended, through the magnificent choral service, to the final reception in the Royal Apartments, truly marvellous, uplifting and gratifying.

“At the same time, it was also humbling:  it is such a privilege to be singled out for such an honour when there are so many people around who serve the diocese selflessly and generously.”

Madeleine Gilpin, from Ardley-with-Fewcott, near Bicester, said: “The day was amazing and an experience I shall never forget. Meeting the Queen face to face was the highlight of the day but all the magnificent colours of the clothing and uniforms of the dignitaries and people present, the architecture and windows of St. George’s Chapel and Windsor Castle’s State Rooms just blew us away because it was all so breathtakingly wonderful. We are in such admiration of the Queen and her dedication to so many causes.”

Bede Gerrard said that in the months prior to nomination for Maundy Money, he had been seen with Bishop Steven at Carfax in central Oxford, keeping vigil with people of many faiths. He was also Oxfordshire’s County Ecumenical Officer and latterly the Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral.

“The vigils had been at the initiative of Sheik Ramzy who asked my help to publicise and organise them, often at very short notice. They followed the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, the expulsion of Rohingya  Muslims from Myanmar/Burma, and the refugees from fighting in Syria and Iraq. As a Christian I was asked to lead a two minutes silence and prayers, giving Christian witness to human solidarity and diversity.

Referring to the Maundy service he said: “The experience was very memorable only marred by the fact that due to illness my wife could not accompany me.”

The Revd John King is a farmer and a priest in the Buckinghamshire benefice who has helped in Winslow during a vacancy. He said: “I have no idea why I was picked. I am sure there were many other people who were deserving. It was amazing. We were so well looked after and the organisation was superb. The Queen was wonderful.”

In 2013 there was major excitement as the Queen gave out Maundy Money at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Read the full story here.