The Queen honours Whitnash resident with a Maundy Gift for his many years of service to the community

The collection of specially minted silver coins was given to former RAF serviceman Alistair Macfarlane for his service to the community over many years.

Alistair Macfarlane with his Maundy Gift and letter from Her Majesty The Queen.

Former RAF serviceman Alistair Macfarlane from Whitnash has received a Maundy Gift from Her Majesty The Queen

The gift comprises a collection of specially minted silver coins and was given in recognition of Alistair's service to the community over many years.

He is a regular volunteer for the foodbank and the seniors’ lunch, an active member of St Margaret’s church and the chairman of the Whitnash Twinning Association.

He is much liked in the community and acts as an informal taxi service for several older people who might otherwise be housebound or unable to get out and about.

His community mindedness has shown itself consistently for many years.

Alistair, who has lived in Whitnash since 1969, said: "You could have knocked me over with a feather when I was told I had been nominated to receive a Maundy Gift from Her Majesty The Queen.

"Receiving the Maundy Gift is a great honour, and my family and I are absolutely delighted.

"I love helping people, and I can’t believe that I’ve received this for doing something that I enjoy so much."

Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, The Queen recognises and gives thanks for the 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 April 1 and Alistair would have attended to receive his gift.

However, due to current Covid restrictions, the service was unable to go ahead and the gift was accompanied by a personal letter from The Queen instead.

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony, inspired by the Bible.

On the night he was betrayed Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and commanded them to ‘love one another’.

By the 13th century, the Royal Family took part in similar ceremonies on Maundy Thursday.

King Henry IV started a new Maundy Thursday tradition of giving the same number of gifts as his age.

For example, when he was forty he gave forty gifts. Charles II started giving out coins and the tradition of giving coins has remained.

Recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the service they have given to their community or the church.

Usually there is a service in a cathedral to hand out the money.

At the ceremony, the monarch hands each recipient two small leather string purses.

A red purse contains ordinary coins and a white one contains silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the monarch’s age.

Alistair has previously received a Campaign Service Medal for his service in the Royal Air Force in South Arabia during the 1960s.