Recognition for Thomas Stevenson

Thomas Stevenson from Portadown in the Diocese of Armagh deservedly received the Royal Maundy Money
on 28th March 2024 at a special ceremony in Worcester Cathedral.

Thomas who currently worships in St Columba’s Portadown has faithfully served the Church of Ireland and other agencies for many years in a vast number of roles. A Sunday School Teacher, Diocesan Reader, Bible Study Group leader, member of the Armagh Diocesan Board of Mission and Outreach and the Church of Ireland Council for Mission. He has been a Crosslinks missionary,
an agent for Scripture Union and a science teacher in Kenya and Northern Ireland.

Thomas tells the story of receiving the news of his award and the service in Worcester Cathedral in his own words:

“The amazing sequence of Maundy events began on 23 January 2024 when I received a letter from The Royal Almonry, Buckingham Palace.  Inside was the unbelievable exciting news that I had been awarded The Maundy Money for my work in Armagh Diocese, in the community, and overseas. The Award would be given in Worcester Cathedral on March 28th.  I could be accompanied by my wife, Myrtle.

King Charles, being 75, would give the Maundy purses to 75 men and 75 women. The King would however not be in attendance, sadly because of his illness but his role would be capably covered by his wife Queen Camilla.

The city and the Cathedral were under strict security measures, Queen Camilla arriving by helicopter, landing on a nearby sports field, then transferred by Royal Limousine to the Cathedral entrance. Extra security was visible on rooftops, and a drone hovered above the Cathedral. Security was tight also for us arriving for the service, first showing our passports, then into the cloisters for registration.  My ticket for our seat was no. 1 !  Where would no. 1 be? In the front row no less, near the leading clergy, and 3 metres from Queen Camilla!

At 10.30 began the procession, for almost 30 minutes, the choirs, the Yeomen of the Guard, the clergy, it could have been a rerun of the Coronation!  At 11.00 with the Queen’s arrival at The North Door, a fanfare of trumpets, and the singing of the first hymn, Praise to the Holiest in the heights.
Just before the service began the Lord High Almoner addressed the recipients as how they would greet the Queen, and they would say only ‘Thank You Your Majesty ‘.
However, as I was the first to receive the Maundy purses, with a full congregation in front of her, I felt I should give her some reassurance at the outset.  I thanked her for willingness to step into this role, and into others in the absence of her husband, and how much this was being appreciated, concluding with ‘God Bless you, Your Majesty ‘.
The Maundy gifts were carried on 4 silver trays, carried by the colourful Yeomen of the Guard. The distribution took around 25 minutes, during which time the 50 strong choir sang beautiful hymns and songs, concluding with the rousing ‘Zadok the Priest’.  Other congregational hymns were ‘Take my life and let it be’, and ‘When I survey The Wondrous Cross’.   The whole event was a truly memorable and spiritual experience.