The Queen has sent the traditional Maundy money to 190 men and women across the UK, as she prepares for another quiet Easter.
Each year the Queen gives Maundy coins to as many men and women as she has years to celebrate their community service.
As the Queen turns 95 this year, 95 men and 95 women each received two purses, one red and one white, which have been blessed by the Sub-Dean at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.
This year’s coins have been newly minted to commemorate Her Majesty’s 95th Birthday, and the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day.
Among the recipients is a 101-year-old who still walks to church every Sunday, and even went skiing soon after his 100th birthday.
Along with the coins was a message from Her Majesty, in which she wrote: "I am delighted to send you the Maundy Gift which I hope you will accept as an expression of my personal thanks to you for all that you have done to enrich the life of your community.
"On the night before he died, Jesus washed the feet of his Disciples. This was something usually done for guests by a servant of the household. By taking the part of a servant, Jesus set an example to the Disciples and to those who, down through the ages, would try to follow him. He showed us that service for others is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.
"Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, we have an opportunity to recognise, and give thanks for, work done by countless people for the wellbeing of their neighbours; work that has often been taken for granted or hidden. The Service this year was to have taken place in Westminster Abbey on Thursday, 1st April. You were to have been one of the Recipients whose Christian service would be recognised on that occasion.
"I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for that Service to take place. I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated.
"My thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.
"I wish you every blessing, and a very happy Easter."
The letter was signed "Elizabeth R".
The name Maundy Thursday comes from the latin word mandatum, which means to command, recalling the words of Jesus to his disciples after he washed their feet: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another."
One of the recipients is 101-year-old George Stewart, from Perthshire.
He went skiing in the Alps months after his 100th birthday. Each Remembrance Sunday, he lays the wreath at Church and at the War Memorial, and has been involved for much of his life in the congregation of Scone and St Martin’s Parish Church in Perthshire.
He said: "It is a great pleasure and honour. I remember every year of the Queen’s reign, and I am humbled to receive the Maundy Money and to be part of a venerable tradition. It is kind of Her Majesty The Queen to consider me, and to remember me."
He added: "I’m 101 so there’s a limited amount I can do but I support the church’s activities as best I can.
"I learnt to ski after the war in Italy where I was stationed, and I’ve skied virtually every year since then, both in Scotland and the Alps."
Other recipients include Sylvia McGreal, from Manchester, who has volunteered with Girlguiding for 44 years, Agnes Slocombe, who was celebrated for her service to her church in West Hendon as well as being the first black Mayor of Barnet, and Carole Braggins from Barry Island, who volunteers at the Amelia Trust Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan, a care farm working with youngsters struggling with formal education and people with various disabilities.
Neville Pogue, from County Armagh, a dedicated volunteer for Southern Area Hospice Services for more than 20 years, also received the coins, as did Malcolm Cloutt, a veteran WW2 RAF pilot who served in Europe and Burma. Cloutt, who turned 100 last year, has given out 1,000 Bibles in his lifetime, listing each recipient by name and praying for them regularly.
The white purse contains uniquely minted Maundy money – silver one, two, three and four penny pieces – to the value of 95p.
The red pouch has a £5 coin, this year commemorating the Queen’s 95th birthday, and a 50p which portrays the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day in 1971.
According to PA, historically, this sum of £5.50 in the red purse is made up of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 which represents a piece of the sovereign’s gown which, before Tudor times, used to be divided between the recipients.
In normal times, the Queen would attend a service on Maundy Thursday and give out the purses in person, but that has had to be replaced with posted coins for 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
According to the palace website: “The Queen travels to a different cathedral across the country to hand out special coins to men and women in recognition for their contribution to their community and church.”
She decided early in her reign to ensure the money went further than London, so has travelled frequently for the service.
In 2017, she went to Leicester Cathedral, the final cathedral she had to go to. Since then, it’s been held in Windsor.
The coins are legal tender but don’t enter circulation, because of their silver content.
Watch: Queen attends annual Royal Maundy Service in Windsor