Shoreham churchwarden Ian Tompkin was honoured to be chosen to receive the Queen’s Maundy money this Easter.
He was one of four people from the Diocese of Chichester to be nominated for this year’s service, held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on Maundy Thursday.
Mr Tompkin has been churchwarden of St Mary de Haura, one of the finest non-cathedral parish churches in the country, for 36 years.
He said: “Maundy Thursday was a day of unbelievable joy. It was such a great honour to have been selected and invited.
“The Queen hands it to you, she processes around and presents it, that is the significance of it. She said she very much likes it because it is one of the few times when she comes to the subject, rather than them coming to her.
“We were asked to say ‘thank you, Your Majesty’ and she said ‘thank you’.”
Mr Tompkin received two leather purses, one red and one white. There was a coin commemorating the four generations of royalty during her reign, a coin to mark the 100th anniversary of women being granted the vote and the silver Maundy money, uniquely minted for the occasion.
He said: “Both Betty, my wife, and I found the service most moving, inspiring and most impressive. The reception afterwards was wonderful. They took great care of us.”
To his knowledge, Mr Tompkin is the only person from St Mary’s ever to have received Maundy Money.
The diocese said: “Like the others nominated, he is a faithful and extremely hard-working churchwarden. What is particularly helpful about Ian is his refreshing approach to suggestions that involve change. He is always open to considering them.”
In total, there were 184 recipients, two for every year of the Queen’s life. The others from Sussex were Roger Brown, churchwarden at St Richard’s in Langney; Frances Catt, who has given long service to the church and community in East Guldeford and Camber; and Arlene Collins, who runs the St Richard’s Community Centre in Brighton.
Mr Tompkin said he first heard of it in November, when he received a letter from Buckingham Palace.
He said: “This year, it had been decided that all the dioceses of the Church of England, in addition to some Anglican dioceses in Scotland and the Anglican church in Wales, had been asked to nominate individuals.
“In my case, I have been churchwarden at St Mary’s since 1981, in addition to being a parochial church council member since 1979 and foundation governor of our own St Nicolas and St Mary’s Church Aided Primary School from September 1982 until I retired from the position in August last year.
“During this lengthy period of service, I have had the pleasure of working alongside four vicars, which involved dealing with three interregnums. I have been a lay member of the Hove Deanery Synod, 1979 to 2006, and lay member the Chichester Diocesan Synod, 1995 to 2008.
“During my time as churchwarden, the care of the fabric of our pure transitional Norman church, Grade 1 listed, has been a central priority, the largest work being the restoration of the transition Norman vaulting ceiling, which came to a cost of more than £1million in the years between 2003 and 2006.
“This has been considered to have been one of the most major non-cathedral restoration and conservation projects to have taken place since the major Victorian church restorations.
“The ongoing conservation and restoration of a Grade 1 listed church is a major undertaking, the Church of St Mary de Haura being regarded as one of the finest non-cathedral parish churches in the land.”
Mr Tompkin said his work in the school had developed his commitment to church schools and he was the first lay chairman of governors, from 1994 until 2005. Until 1994, the vicar was always the chairman of governors and, prior to 1977, the school manager.