On Maundy Thursday Her Majesty the Queen visited the Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul in Sheffield to distribute Maundy Money.  The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony based on Christ’s commandment to “love one another.”

Originally the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor was accompanied by gifts of food and clothing.  Over time, the washing of the feet of the poor was discontinued and the gifts of food and clothing were replaced by gifts of money.  Maundy Money has remained very much the same since the 17th Century.

There are as many recipients of money as there are years in the Sovereign’s age.  Recipients are chosen because of their  years of devoted service to their Church and  the wider community.

Ralph Dickins Maundy Money sRalph Dickins has been a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Our Lady and St Thomas SVP conference for 43 years.  In recent times he has been involved with the SVP Furniture Store as a Management Committee member, then as fundraiser since 2003.

The photograph  opposite shows Ralph holding the Maundy Money with the Furniture Store Manager, Lorraine Healy,  and Committee Members, Kevin McCready, Richard Davis and John Vear.

Graham Kirby Maundy Money sGraham Kirby from St Alban’s Parish, Denaby was among the proud recipients of these prestigious coins.

Graham is pictured with his wife, Pat, outside the Cathedral after meeting the Queen.

Maundy money 3 sSr Etheldreda Hembrough, Marist Sister from Goldthorpe, and Sr Maire Morris, Sister of the Poor Child Jesus from Thrybergh, were both nominated to receive Maundy Money.  On the far right Sr Maire meets Sr Etheldreda and her brother, Michael, outside Sheffield Cathedral.

Below is Sr Etheldreda’s account of the whole experience.

“It was with great surprise that on 21 January, 2015 I opened a letter from the Royal Almonry Office, Buckingham Palace.  I read it and re-read it as I could not believe my eyes.  It stated that I had been selected by the Dean of Sheffield Cathedral to be a recipient of the Maundy money to be distributed by the Queen in Sheffield Cathedral on 2 April 2015.  This was the 60th time the Queen has performed this task.  I was to take one companion with me.  Immediately I thought of my brother, Michael, who lives in London.  All the information I read to him over the ’phone.  After speaking to his wife, Jean, he soon contacted me and said he would be my companion.

Forms were filled in with Michael’s and my personal details, also something about myself, that the Queen would like to read.  The form was sent to the Royal Almonry Office.  Still wondering who had put my name forward, I phoned the Dean of Sheffield Cathedral to ask if Jean could be in the congregation.  He told me that there was no room for anyone except the recipients, their companions, the choirs, the Queen’s retinue and Civic Authorities and Church leaders.  This would consist of 1,100 persons.  He could not tell me who put my name forward but I found out later.  In reply to my question Canon Keith Farrow at Sheffield Cathedral told me that Ministers of all Religions were contacted in South Yorkshire and asked to put forward 2 names of recipients. They had to write about the suggested recipients and then some were chosen and notified. Apparently one had to be over 70 years of age and had worked in the Diocese for a certain number of years.

I worked as a Parish Sister in St Joseph’s Handsworth for 16 years. During the six months when the parish priest was ill, I was kept busy organising priests and their transport from St Marie’s Cathedral for the week-end Masses, doing the weekly newsletter and other administrative tasks. During my time there, with the help of parishioners, we brought back to life the Church Cemetery. The graves were nearly invisible! I served on the committee of Hallam Religious for 23 years and was treasurer for 22 and Secretary for several years. Another task I had was the collection of clothes from various people for the Drop-in-Centre in Sheffield and notification to the Furniture Store of any unwanted furniture, which was collected by the volunteers who worked there.

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Srs Carmel Reynolds, Etheldreda Hembrough and Darina McGoldrick in the Cathedral on 14 March

On 14 March Sisters Carmel Reynolds, Darina McGoldrick and I went to the Cathedral Church of St Peter and Paul in Sheffield on the train and Supertram. When we arrived at the Cathedral we were greeted with large pieces of sponge cake of various kinds and tea or coffee. We then assembled in the main aisle of the cathedral to listen to a lecture on Maundy Money given by the Lord High Almoner and Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge. He told us that Maundy Money was first given in the 6th Century and continued to inform us about it down through the ages. After this he answered questions put by the recipients about the ceremony on 2 April. The police then spoke about closure of roads from 7 o’clock and the times of the trams for us.

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Sr Etheldreda and her brother, Michael on Supertram on their way to Sheffield for the ceremony

The 2nd of April soon dawned and when my alarm clock went off at 6 am, I thought excitedly, ‘Today I am going to meet the Queen.’ My brother, Michael, who was my companion and his wife, Jean came to collect me at 7.30am and we set off for the Blue Car Park at Meadowhall, which was reserved that day for the Recipients and Companions. There we caught the Supertram at Tinsley South Station which took us up to the Cathedral. The plan was to put on 2 Supertrams to transport us to the Cathedral, but they had to put on a third one as a greater number of Recipients and Companions than they had expected had chosen this means of travel to the Cathedral. We arrived at the Cathedral and the Recipients went into Cutlers Hall, opposite the cathedral, while the Companions went to the cathedral. We had to show our tickets and were ticked off on the list and then accompanied over to the Cathedral.

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Sr Etheldreda with the Beefeaters in the Cutlers Hall

The crowds were waiting for the arrival of the Queen and waved their flags in anticipation. All traffic was stopped from entering the centre of Sheffield from 7 am and the Supertrams allocated for us between 8.45am and 9.15am were the last to run. On entering the Cathedral we found our assigned seats, Recipients in the front rows and their Companions immediately behind them. The wooden carved seats for the Queen and Prince Philip were donated by the Cutlers Company. ‘Tu es Petrus’ by Henri Mulet was one of the pieces played on the organ before the Service. At 10.35 the Cathedral Procession of bishops, priests and choirs processed into the cathedral. This was followed at 10.40 by the Ecumenical Procession that included Bishop Ralph Heskett and the Dean of St Marie’s Cathedral, Fr Chris Pozluszny. 10.45 saw the entrance of the Queen’s procession into the Nave. The Royal Almonry Procession entered and lined up in the main aisle among the congregation. A fan-fare announced the arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip and they were presented with the usual traditional nosegays. (Royals were once required to wash the feet of beggars during the service; only the nosegay, intended to hide the smell, still survives of that part of the ceremony). During the first hymn ‘Praise to the Holiest in the Height’ the Queen’s Procession moved into the sanctuary. Psalm 138 was sung and prayers were said. ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ was sung and the first lesson, John 13:1-15 was read.

The Queen then distributed the Maundy Money to 89 recipients on the South side of the cathedral. The Royal Maundy was traditionally about giving alms to poor pensioners.  After the 2nd lesson was read the Maundy Money was distributed by the Queen to the remainder of the Recipients on the North side of the cathedral, where I was positioned. As the Queen approached I bowed and she looked at my name badge on my lapel and handed me the two purses. I said ‘Thank you your Majesty and God Bless You.’ The red one contained 2 coins, a £5 coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill and a 50p coin marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. These specially made silver coins are not intended for everyday use. Inside the white purse was 89p in Maundy Coins, made up of one, two, three and four pence coins which are all legal tender.  Each year, the Royal Mint produces a limited number of special coins for the service.

Prayers followed the distribution, including one for the Queen that she would receive a heavenly crown in the world to come. We then sang ‘All for Jesus, All for Jesus’ and recited the ‘Our Father’ followed by the National Anthem and Blessing.

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The roses presented to Sr Etheldreda and Michael, twenty days after the event and still beautiful

The various processions left the cathedral, followed by the Recipients and Companions who were escorted by the Wandsmen to the Cutlers Hall, where we enjoyed our lunch donated by the Cutlers’ Company Charitable Trust. We then returned by Supertram to the Tinsley South stop where each Recipients and Companion was given a beautiful white rose. Mine and my brother’s are beside the tabernacle in our small Chapel and are still beautiful twenty days after the event. The atmosphere in the cathedral was very prayerful and joyful. The ceremonial was excellent and the organisation of the event was perfect. I felt very privileged to have been nominated and selected as a Recipient and will never forget 2 April, 2015 as long as I live.

Our parish priest, Fr Martin Stone and Marion, our Secretary, found a video of the event in the Sheffield Star in which I was featured standing near the Queen, having just received the Maundy Money from her. This was printed in the Easter Sunday edition of the parish newsletter of Corpus Christi Parish.

I was pleased to be sharing the occasion with other people from the Diocese, including Sr Maire Morris from St Gerard’s, Thrybergh.”