A Brighton woman who has served at the heart of her community for decades was one of the recipients of maundy money from the Queen this year.
Arlene Collins, who turns 80 this month, took part in the historic ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Mrs Collins, of Bursted Close, in Hollingdean, said: “It’s an age-old thing that’s been going on for centuries.
“They used to give it (maundy money) to the poor but now they give it to people who have served their communities.
“You get a little red leather pouch and a white leather pouch. The red leather pouch contains a £5 coin and a 50p piece. The white one had a little silver coin for every year of the Queen’s age – 91 of them.”
They’re not legal tender, she added.
Mrs Collins, who looked after the Church of St Richard and the church hall in Hollingdean until she retired recently, said that the Maundy Thursday ceremony was amazing.
She said: “It was absolutely overwhelming. My sister came with me. It was so well organised and there was so much help. It was wonderful.”
The Queen was tiny, she said. “She’s really quite tiny. She’s got a beautiful smile and she’s so observant.”
This year four people went to the ceremony at Windsor from the Diocese of Chichester, the branch of the Church of England that oversees the Sussex area.
Mrs Collins was the only representative of the diocese from Brighton and Hove.
The diocese, which has its head office in New Church Road, Hove, said: “Arlene has run the St Richard’s Community Centre for at least 15 years.
“St Richard’s has been a home for all sorts of groups and activities, from uniformed organisations to zumba classes, Weight Watchers, Evergreens (senior citizens) art classes, parties, etc.
“She has taken bookings, cleaned the place, looked after the money and ensured its ongoing presence at the heart of the community.”
Every year the Queen hands out maundy money at a special service on Maundy Thursday – the day before Good Friday – as part of a tradition dating back to the 13th century.
In that era, members of the royal family were reported to have taken part in ceremonies that involved washing the feet of the poor and giving them money and gifts.
The current ceremony of giving out maundy money dates from 1662, in the reign of Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy.
The original custom has been traced back to the Last Supper when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as an act of humility. Some churches still recreate this example of service to others on Maundy Thursday.