Earlier this year I was nominated by the Diocese of York to receive Royal Maundy Money from the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The most significant and important element for me was to receive the honour from the Anglican community for services to Church and Community. For over six years, I have represented Bishop Terry and the Diocese of Middlesbrough as a Trustee on the Board of Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland, (TM & C). Readers will know about the outstanding work undertaken by TM & C across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland.

The Board under the Chairmanship of Bishop Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby, and the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers has made a big difference to the lives of so many in these challenging times for vulnerable communities. We have the respect and trust of Members of Parliament, local council leaders and other civic and voluntary organisations across Tees Valley. In particular, our projects dealing with holiday hunger and loneliness have achieved national recognition.

Margaret and I were welcomed to St George’s Chapel, a building rich in history and architecture by Bishop John Inge, the Lord High Almoner. Sitting in the Nave we could see many different heraldic signs in the vaulting. Most are heraldic badges of King Henry VII (this part of the vaulting was built in his reign) or those in his Court.

On duty in uniform were not only the Queen’s Bodyguard, the Yeoman of the Guard ,but also the Military Knights of Windsor. In the Middle Ages, when the Court travelled regularly round the country the Annual Royal Maundy was observed wherever the Sovereign was in residence at Easter.

The distribution of alms and the washing of feet by the sovereign on the Thursday of Holy Week are of great antiquity and can be traced back to the 13th Century. The first recorded Royal Distribution was at Knaresborough, North Yorkshire by King John in 1210.The Service derives its name from the Latin word “mandatum” meaning a commandment, and the opening words of the service are, “Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment”

The symbolic gifts, which are handed to recipients by the Queen, are two leather purses, one white and one red, which contain specially minted legal tender.

The liturgy and music were spectacular and it was evident that this ceremony of faith and service is one of the Queen’s favourite duties. She was radiant throughout the service.

After the service, a reception was held in the State Apartments in Windsor Castle. All guests were well looked after and the reception lasted until late afternoon.

Talking to other recipients throughout the day, we came to realise just how much social action and service to Church and community is undertaken throughout the country. TM & C, a vital example of ecumenical partnership, is playing a strategic and pivotal role in the life of our community. All of our Caritas and social action teams should be proud of this vital contribution to Christian service and duty.

John Hinman

Trustee

Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland