Royal Maundy money honour for members of Newcastle Diocese

First published on: 29th March 2022

Baz and his wife Jen

Two people from our Diocese will be presented with Maundy money in recognition of the significant contribution they have made to their communities.

Shirley Brown, churchwarden in the parish of St Cuthbert, Allendale, and Baz Dowsett, from Percy Main in North Shields, will receive the gift in honour of the voluntary work they carry out in their parishes. 

Alongside 95 other men and women – equal to the number of years Her Majesty The Queen has lived – Shirley and Baz will be presented with the Maundy money at the Royal Maundy Service, held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

This is the first time since the pandemic began that the Maundy money will be handed out in person as Covid restrictions prevented the annual service taking place in 2020 and 2021.

Shirley, who helped to set up Zoom services during the pandemic to keep church members connected, is an active member of her local community.

She ran Hexham Rangers, Allendale Brownies and Guides, and founded the First Responder network covering the Allen Valleys for the Ambulance Service. 

Shirley also supports a number of elderly people by taking them to hospital, doctor and hairdresser appointments.

She said: “I still can’t quite believe it and am trying to take it in! When I received the letter from Buckingham Palace telling me that I am to be a Maundy recipient I was quite overcome, I never expected to receive anything like this, it’s something that happens to other people. I feel very humbled and honoured that the bishop thinks me worthy of nomination.”

Shirley and husband Jim, who will accompany Shirley to the Maundy service, have worshipped at St Cuthbert’s for 46 years.

Having held a number of positions at the church including PCC treasurer, churchwarden and bell tower captain, Shirley became churchwarden for a second time three years ago.

Speaking of the honour of being nominated for Maundy money, Shirley added: “I’ve just done what anyone else would do, we have a great team of volunteers here in the Allen Valleys, we all work together to try and keep the churches flourishing, so I really feel I’m accepting this honour on behalf of everyone at St Cuthbert’s, St Mark’s and Holy Trinity Churches.”

Baz was nominated for his exemplary voluntary work in Percy Main and for always ‘going the extra mile’.

Both he and his wife Jen - who will join Baz at the Royal Maundy Service - have organised many successful charity fundraising events and have sold thousands of jars of jam and marmalade in aid of St John’s church.

Baz tends to the grounds of both St John’s and St Peter’s Church, Balkwell and supports many elderly people in the community by looking after their gardens, running errands, general maintenance and keeping a watchful on those who live alone. 

Revd Lee Cleminson, vicar at St John’s, said: “Baz and Jen have a deep love for this community, they are able to encourage and take the community with them. 

“When Baz and Jen received their confirmation letter from Buckingham Palace they were both overwhelmed by this gesture.  

“It’s good to see, ordinary, genuine, loving people like Baz and Jen being recognised for all that they have given to others and their community, and we are delighted to share in this joy with them. I hope that they both have the most fantastic day at Windsor Castle. It’s well deserved and they are much appreciated.” 

Baz added: “Things like this don't happen to people like me. It's not just for me though it's for Jen, Revd Lee and our communities and congregations who have donated time, money, willingness and desire to raise the profile of both parishes. On behalf of us all I am delighted to accept this honour."

In a service dating back to 600AD, Shirley and Baz will be presented with two small leather purses, one red and one white.

The first contains a small amount of ordinary coinage which symbolises the Sovereign's gift for food and clothing. The second purse contains Maundy coins up to the value of the Sovereign's age.

Traditionally it is the Queen who distributes Maundy money to pensioners in a service which commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.

Buckingham Palace is yet to announce who will distribute it this year, although each recipient has been asked to provide a short paragraph for Her Majesty’s information.

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