Maundy recipients tell of excitement

AFTER 107 years of life there is not much Kathleen Grimwood has not seen or heard before but she will fulfil one of her last remaining life-long wishes today when she meets the Queen.

Russell Claydon

AFTER 107 years of life there is not much Kathleen Grimwood has not seen or heard before but she will fulfil one of her last remaining life-long wishes today when she meets the Queen.

There will not be a prouder person in St Edmundsbury Cathedral this morning when Suffolk's oldest resident is introduced to the Monarch.

After her family laid Sudbury bricks in London's Royal Albert Hall, Kathleen will leave behind her own Royal legacy after she becomes the oldest recipient of Maundy Money on record.

The bubbly Sudbury resident was getting her hair done in preparation for the big day yesterday and could barely contain her mixture of nerves and excitement.

“I think it is going to be a great honour,” she said. “I am very nervous about meeting her. I never thought I would come to it.

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“I am really looking forward to it but I am rather frightened. I am rather nervous in case I do the wrong thing.”

She added: “It is an absolute miracle. Do you think the Queen will mind? I cannot behave like a young person.”

Casting her eye over the four telegrams from Her Majesty, one each for her 100th, 105th , 106th and 107th birthdays - taking pride of place in her sitting room - she joked: “I am 108 this August, I am running out of space!”

One of a pair of twins born in 1901, Kathleen's parents were told she probably wouldn't make it. But she defied the experts by outliving all of her immediate family.

“The doctor told my mother 'you will never bring her up' - my twin sister died 16 years ago. I was meant to be the weak one.”

Judy Darlington, her great niece, in her 40s, will proudly accompany Kathleen inside the Cathedral today for the Maundy Thursday ceremony and The Croft resident admits she was amazed to receive her invitation.

“I did not expect it,” she said. “I passed out!

“I had some Maundy Money once which my uncle got and I can't find it anymore. It was pinched.”

Coming from a very well-known Sudbury family, who gave gas to the town with the gasworks and had a hand in building the Albert Hall, Kathleen will be able to repair the damage of the lost coins when she receives her Maundy Money purse today.

Never married, though she boasts she was asked on several occasions, the centenarian, a former school matron, is still a regular in the congregation at St Gregory's Church and is sure to revel in the Royal visit at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

She will be joined, by, amongst others, a former hospital matron who ran an emergency clinic for injured people in Kenya during the 1950s. Margaret Warry , 85, from Halesworth, is a Eucharistic Minister who takes home communion to people unable to get to church. She also belongs to the University of the Third Age where she attends a writers' group and music group.

Miss Warry said: “It is rather exciting. I knew about it before Christmas but I had to keep it quiet until it was official, which was very difficult. It is such a privilege and my family are all very excited. I remember Maundy Money from my childhood.”

Fellow Halesworth resident Josie Forbes, 81, will also receive Maundy Money. She was nominated for the ceremonial money by Rev Edward Rennard, team rector of the Blyth Valley Team Ministry.

Doreen Baxter, 68, will make up another of the 83 men and 83 women receiving money in recognition of their service to their commuinities.

Mrs Baxter, from Ashfield Cum Thorpe, has been playing the organ at the village's St Mary's Church for 50 years. She has also been on the church council for 40 years and admitted she was shocked to receive the invitation.

“I am quite knocked over by it,” she said. “I never think of myself as being anything special and everything I have done I enjoy doing. I have always been ready to lend a hand in the village and I presume that is why my name has gone forward.”

It is the first time in the history of Bury St Edmunds that it has had the honour of hosting the event. The Queen will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.

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