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Cathedral warden among those awarded Maundy money from Queen

by Tola Mbakwe
Sue Ward - Banner image
Sue Ward

The Queen has honoured a Portsmouth churchwarden for her Christian service to the nation.
 
Sue Ward, 77, who is a churchwarden at Portsmouth Cathedral, is one of 190 people who have received Maundy money as part of the Maundy Thursday tradition dating back to the 17th century.
 
Ward has been churchwarden at the cathedral for 10 of the past 13 years, in two separate stints. She trained as a teacher, and has worked in the UK and as a Voluntary Service Overseas volunteer in Pakistan, as well as accompanying her husband Terry and continuing to contribute on further VSO tours.  
 
She actively supports the Fairtrade Forum, interfaith initiatives and Christian Aid through fundraising and awareness-raising events, as well as personal advocacy. She is also a member of a local choir.
 
Ward received two small leather purses, which are given to men and women because of their Christian service over many years. The red purse contains £5 and 50p coins, while the white one contains silver coins specially minted by the Royal Mint, amounting to the same number in pence as the Queen's age.

The monarch wrote to those she would have presented with symbolic coins during the annual Royal Maundy service, but who instead have received the gift by post after the event was cancelled for the second year running due to coronavirus restrictions.

"I am delighted to send you the Maundy gift which I hope you will accept as an expression of my personal thanks to you for all that you have done to enrich the life of your community," the Queen said in her letter.

"Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, we have an opportunity to recognise, and give thanks for, work done by countless people for the wellbeing of their neighbours; work that has often been taken for granted or hidden."
 
Ward said: "I'm astonished and delighted to receive Maundy money from the Queen. I don't really feel as though I deserve it, but it is an honour and I'm very grateful. 
 
"I've found being a churchwarden a joy, and a wonderful introduction to the whole of diocesan life, not just the local community. In a cathedral, you are very much a logistics person, making sure that everyone is being looked after.
 
"It is a shame that I won't be receiving the Maundy money alongside the other people who have been honoured in this way, as it would be good to meet others who are also Maundy recipients this year."
 
Very Rev Dr Anthony Cane, Dean of Portsmouth, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Sue Ward is to be honoured for her lifelong commitment to practical action in serving others, both in this country and internationally.  
 
"Her contribution to the life of Portsmouth Cathedral is immense, not simply through being an exemplary churchwarden, but also for her constant encouragement to look outwards with compassion and a commitment to justice, seeking to make a positive difference to lives of those most in need.  
 
"We know that there is still so much more to be done, but nonetheless it is wonderful to have this chance to give thanks for Sue, and to celebrate with her and her family."

Agnes Slocombe, who served as the first black Mayor of Barnet, described receiving the Maundy coins as "wonderful".

She has been an active member of St John's Church in West Hendon, London for many decades, since she first came to the UK from Barbados as a young woman.

"It's wonderful to receive such an honour from the Queen. Even though we are not able to have the service this year, it's appreciated as it shows we are still thought of," she said.

During the service, the Queen would have distributed Maundy money to 95 men and 95 women - as she will be 95 this year, celebrating her birthday on April 21.

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony which originated in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples the day before Good Friday.

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