Queen’s gift to unsung heroes

The Queen leaves Blackburn Cathedral following the Maundy Money service.
The Queen leaves Blackburn Cathedral following the Maundy Money service.

There were smiles all round as the Queen came to Lancashire for the traditional Maundy Thursday service.

Fylde coast residents were among the 88 men and 88 women – one for each year of the Queen’s years – to receive Maundy Money from Her Majesty at Blackburn Cathedral yesterday.

Cheering crowds lined the streets as the Queen, dressed in an eye-catching cerise cashmere coat and matching hat, and the Duke of Edinburgh made their way from the train station to the Cathedral for the service, which was held in Lancashire for the first time.

Church bells rang out for the occasion as people travelled from across the country to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

And Her Majesty even posed for the cameras outside after the service, standing with local school children and flanked by the brightly dressed yeomen of the guard.

Mary Davidson, 82, from St Annes, was nominated to receive the Maundy Money, part of an ancient tradition stretching back to the fourth century, for her work helping others.

She said: “It was just fantastic – I will never forget this day. The Queen was very nice and when she gives you the Maundy money she looks directly at you.

“When she smiles it still lights up her face. She looked amazing.”

For hundreds of years, the royal family has handed out money at Easter – a red purse containing £5.50 in coins in lieu of food and clothing and a white one with silver coins totalling the same number of pence as their are years in the sovereign’s age.

This year, the red purse contained a freshly minted £5 coin, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Queen Anne’s reign and a 50p coin in honour of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

Stan Campy, 83, from Fleetwood, was at the service with wife Theresa to receive the money for his role in the church and regular visits to see ill people.

He said: “It was a wonderful day. It was completely unexpected when I found out I had been nominated.

“Although it’s not the first time we have met the Queen – my wife and I went to the garden party at Buckingham Palace several years ago.”

Despite the cold weather yesterday, members of the public were taking their places on the side of the road from 7.30am in order to get a good view of Her Majesty.

Julie Berry, who is from Blackburn but whose parents live in Kirkham, was worried she had missed her chance after the Queen made only a fleeting appearance on her way into the Cathedral but was well placed to get a picture when the royals smiled for the cameras on the way out.

She said: “It was cold but it was totally worth it. It’s something that many would pay for. We got up early to get here at 8.30am to get a good sport by the Cathedral.”

Barbara Holliday, from Blackburn, said: “It was lovely and she gives you the Maundy Money personally.

“I had never met her before – I had seen her but never as close as that.”

Early Maundy Thursday services saw the monarch wash the feet of the poor, although this hasn’t been done for around 300 years.