Royal Recognition for Cathedral Volunteer

14 April 2022

Image of Chris Haigh speaking with HRH Prince of Wales

A Wakefield-resident who has worshipped and volunteered at Wakefield Cathedral for almost 60 years will today receive royal recognition for her devotion to the church.

Chris Haigh, who first began attending Wakefield Cathedral in 1964 after her late-husband, Richard, had joined the cathedral choir, has headed to Windsor Castle on Maundy Thursday for the annual Royal Maundy Service.

The service is seen as a key date in the royal calendar when The Queen distributes ‘Maundy Money’ to deserving senior citizens in recognition of their contribution to the church and their local community.

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles will be representing Her Majesty at this years’ service for the first time.

Chris was born in Wakefield and has lived in the district all her life. She was previously a PE Teacher at Thornes House Grammar School but has held a wide variety of roles at Wakefield Cathedral over the past fifty-plus years, including: Churchwarden, Chapter Member, Welcomer, Steward and voluntarily running the cathedral book shop for over 20 years to name a few.

Speaking about becoming a Royal Maundy recipient, Chris said: “The first thing I said when I read the letter notifying me of the news was ‘Why Me!?’

“I feel incredibly honoured to have been nominated; when I received my letter from Buckingham Palace it came as a great shock, but I am really proud and humbled by the whole situation.”

Chris will attend the Royal Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, before enjoying a post-service reception.

Chris continues: “The church has always played a major role in my life and continues to do so to this day; I’ve seen endless changes at the cathedral throughout the past decades, but the importance of this wonderful place has always remained so key to me and my family.

“My husband was just as involved with the cathedral as I was, holding various roles and responsibilities throughout the years alongside being a Senior Lay Clerk and my son went on to join the choir as a choir boy too.

“It’s a wonderful place to worship with a wonderful community and I’m really looking forward to such a special and unexpected occasion at Windsor Palace this week.”

The Very Revd Simon Cowling, Dean of Wakefield added: “I am sure I speak on behalf of all the clergy, staff members, volunteers, congregation members and friends of Wakefield Cathedral when I offer warmest congratulations to Chris on receiving this well-deserved honour.

“Chris has been a cornerstone of this wonderful cathedral for over half-a-century and remains a pivotal figure and much-loved member of the cathedral community to this day – we are very fortunate to have such a devoted individual associated with Wakefield Cathedral.”

What is the Royal Maundy?

Thousands of senior citizens are nominated for the Royal Maundy each year and from the nominees an equal number of men and women are invited to receive Maundy money, with one man and one woman being selected for every year of the reigning monarch’s life (so this year, with HRH Queen Elizabeth being 95 years old, 95 men and 95 women from across the UK have been selected).

Each recipient will receive two leather purses, a white one containing coins to the value of the same number of pence as the years of the monarch’s age, and a red purse, containing a £5 and 50p coin.

The service takes place on Maundy Thursday and is representational of many religious observations for this day, whereby the Bible tells of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. In many churches the priests will wash the feet of the congregation as a way of showing humility and respect, with The Queen giving out commemorative coins (maundy money), a tradition dating back centuries.

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