Queen honours pair with Maundy money
SURPRISE FOR DEDICATED CHURCHGOERS - AND INSTAGRAM STAR
A 90-YEAR-OLD churchgoer and children’s author has been given an unexpected Easter gift from the Queen after his unlikely Instagram fame helped raise thousands of pounds for charity and good causes.
Geoffrey Walker, from Thringstone, was one of two Diocese of Leicester members – alongside Diane McCarthy, of Hinckley – to be awarded Maundy money in recognition of their service to the Church and community.
Geoffrey has more than 350,000 followers on the social media platform, despite only signing up to help stay in touch with his family.
The great-grandfather’s popularity has soared during the pandemic as he and wife Pauline shared photos and videos from their home.
Every year, the Queen commemorates Maundy Thursday by offering a special gift to pensioners who have been nominated by clergy and ministers in their diocese.
The honour took Geoffrey, a parishioner at St Andrew’s in his home village, by surprise.
“I was gobsmacked,” he said. “I think it’s a great honour to be recognised in this very personal way.
“The honour is as much my wife Pauline’s, as mine. We work together and do what we can, and lead by God’s example.”
Geoffrey organises fund-raising events, including Thringstone’s Got Talent, and donates money from the sale of his books to charities.
He recently shared memories of his life with a class of primary school children over Zoom and has enlisted their help in writing the next adventure in his children’s book series.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Leicester said: “His videos are wonderful – the stuff of everyday life, but done with huge grace and beauty.”
Geoffrey said of his Instagram page: “It started as a way to keep in touch with the wider family and let them know what we were doing, but we seem to have become Instagram grandparents to so many people, all over the world.”
“I do hope the Queen is following me! People say we give so much, but they give us so much more in return with their goodwill and beautiful messages. I feel very humbled by that.
“I don’t find it hard to talk about my faith, and mine is a simple message of love, hope and happiness in the Lord.” Diane, of Holy Trinity Church, Hinckley, is described as a true example of “humble service” in Jesus’ name.
“Diane’s story is one of gentleness, sadness and deep care,” said the Diocese of Leicester spokeswoman.
“She married in her 20s to Dave, a funeral director, and they had a daughter, Sally.
“Very sadly, Dave died after they had been married for just two years. Since then she raised her daughter and has cared for her grandchildren – but also devoted herself to the service of others.
“Diane is a trained Reader, not because she was very confident or outgoing, but to help lead a service if no-one else could.
“She visits, cares, encourages and prays – to those in hospital and at home. She’s quiet but very gracious and faithful, despite facing loss and loneliness.
“During the pandemic, Diane has continued to show great care for those who are isolating, cleaning the church faithfully to allow a return to services, and also vacated her house so someone else could quarantine there for two weeks.
“She is an ongoing example of humble service in Jesus’s name.
This year, the Maundy money was blessed at the Royal Chapel, in St James’s Palace, before being posted to the recipients, with a letter from the Queen.
“When I received the Maundy money, I shed a tear,” Diane said. “It is a real honour and it reminds me of King Jesus, who gives everything and who loves us as we are.
“It’s always been in my heart to care for others, and I’ve always clung closely to God.
“I live to serve him and to share his love and, though life has at times been a struggle, he has changed me and I’ve learnt so much. I realised a life with him is far better.”
This year, the coins have been specially created to commemorate the Queen’s 95th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of decimalisation.