Local people recognised by Her Majesty The Queen for their voluntary service
Four people from the Diocese of Winchester have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen for their years of service to the Church and community life.
The Queen marked Maundy Thursday by distributing ceremonial coins – Maundy Money – a tradition dating back centuries. The tradition is inspired by the biblical account of the day before Good Friday, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and commanded them to ‘Love one another’.
The recipients of Maundy Money are men and women in later life, recommended for the public service they have given throughout their lives to the Church and their communities. This year the award was distributed to 95 men and 95 women from across the country – representing The Queen’s age. The Queen usually distributes Maundy Money at a special ceremony but, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, this year the tradition has been carried out by post, with four people from the Diocese of Winchester receiving the award.
The four recipients from the Diocese of Winchester included Elizabeth Seymour (80) from Pamber Heath, Em Paddick Wilsdon (72) from Silchester, and Keith Symes (91) from Winchester.
Keith was recognised by the Queen for his contribution to community life and the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme at Peter Symonds Sixth Form College in Winchester. There he and his wife Brenda, who died in January last year, worked tirelessly for the students, and acted as boarding house parents for young people from the Falkland Islands studying for their A levels in Winchester.
After she retired from teaching, Elizabeth served as part-time Lay Chaplain at Basingstoke Hospital for 14 years. She now volunteers with the hospital’s befriending service, visiting patients with chronic or life-limiting illness in their homes. She has led the children's ministry at St Paul's Church, Tadley for decades, and still does so at the age of 80. Elizabeth feels very privileged to receive this honour.
Em worked as a teacher and has been leading children's work in the Parish of Silchester for thirty years. She volunteers in the local CofE school, leading Bible drama clubs and as part of the school’s collective worship team. She also serves her church, leading Bible groups and worship, as well as being an active member of the church’s charities and fundraising team.
Speaking about the award, Em Paddick Wilsdon said:
“My faith has got me through the most difficult times in my life, and when my daughter died in 1996, I threw myself into volunteering at the church. I have always enjoyed working in the parish and I love leading the drama club, writing playscripts and making props and costumes. So, I felt truly honoured when the letter arrived from Buckingham Palace. Now I am just looking forward to when we can open everything back up again.”
The Right Reverend Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, said:
“The annual recognition of such sustained and generous contributions to public and community life is heart-warming. Each of these recipients of Maundy Money has demonstrated how the love of God has inspired them to love others, wherever they have found themselves. The difference they have made in their communities reminds us what it looks like to love God, share His life and serve others."