www.barrowvoice.co.uk - First Publised 1975
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Margaret Meets the Queen

At the end of January, Margaret Steadman received a letter from Buckingham Palace saying she was to be a recipient of Maundy Money on April 13th in Leicester Cathedral. Margaret, who still lives in Barrow, came to the village with her parents and brother in November 1945, and they originally had a house on High Street; at that time she had just left school.

Each year the monarch presents purses to pensioners over 70 nominated in recognition for their service to the church and community. They are recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations. Each recipient receives a red purse and a white purse. In the red purse is a five pound coin commemorating the centenary of the House of Windsor and a 50p coin which commemorates a famous person.

This year it is Sir Isaac Newton. The white purse contains multiples of clear plastic pouches containing silver coins in sets of 1p, 2p, 3p and 4p which add up to the monarch’s age. As the Queen is 91 this year there was an extra 1p. All the coins were specially minted and are legal tender.

The service is held in a different cathedral each year and Leicester was the only one the Queen had still to visit. She has now been to Maundy Service in all the cathedrals and abbeys in the UK. It is the only time that the Queen goes to the people.

Margaret’s day began by being taken by her nieces to the King Power Stadium for security checks. Then all the recipients, 182, (91 men and 91 women) were taken by coach to Leicester Cathedral. They had to be in their seats by 10.30am. Margaret’s seat was 162 and her niece, Heather, sat behind her.

The service was full of pageantry with the Yeomen of the Guard carrying the purses on golden alms trays above their heads. The two purses were tied together. Margaret, whose seat was in the North Aisle, only had a good view of the Queen when she was given her purses by her. The service lasted an hour and afterwards the Queen went to St. Martin’s House for a community lunch whilst the recipients were taken back to the King Power Stadium for their buffet lunch.

Margaret said it was a day to remember. It was very well organised and she felt honoured to have received Maundy Money. She also said that the Queen was much smaller than she had imagined.

Ann Higgins