Our day began with a friendly and relaxed sherry reception for everyone in the Church Hall.
St Wilfrid’s Church in Kirkby in Ashfield looked impressive with emblems of the Order of St Lazarus, as the Commandery of King Offa entered with the processional carol, ‘Once in Royal David’s city’. Our Organist, Confrere John Bullock was accompanied by Trumpeter, Mr Tony Wade, throughout the playing of the hymns and traditional carols.
Over seventy people, including representatives from the Leprosy Mission, Lepra and Nepal Leprosy Trust attended the Advent Service, led by our Senior Chaplain, the Revd John Burgess. Lessons were read by members and guests, including the Chairman of Ashfield District Council, Councillor Tony Brewer.
After the Sixth Lesson, St Matthew Ch 2, vv 1-12, read by the Commander, Chevalier Mario Rizzardi, female soloists sang specific verses during the Carol, ‘We three kings of Orient are’.
The Prayers of Intercession were offered by The Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) Robin Turner.
The former Commandery Flag of the Order was laid-up with solemn ceremonial, having been presented by Confrere Paul Day, Flag of the Order Bearer and the Commander, to our Chaplain and Priest-in-Charge of St Wilfrid’s, the Revd Kevin Charles. It was duly hung on the wall for safe custody.
‘Hark, the herald angels sing’ was the carol as the Commandery Procession, directed by our Commandery Marshal, Confrere Carl Bond, left the church.
A very warm welcome was extended to everyone by the Commander, followed by a pleasant three-course lunch at The Abraham Lincoln Library in Alfreton.
Our ever-popular Christmas raffle raised £275 for our chosen charities and was drawn after the Loyal Toast and Grand Master’s Toast.
Once again, our very own Commandery Sword Bearer, Major The Chevalier Geoffrey Berry, attired in distinctive ‘clobber’ (as one might say up north!) gregariously auctioned a number of delicious Pork Pies, emblazoned with the emblem of the Order and especially made by a Yorkshire connoisseur in this particular field, which enhanced funds by an amazing £100.
Not to be outdone, our Chaplain, The Reverend Kevin Charles, dressed in the most appropriate headgear, pitched (in the renowned manner of Brian Blessed!) a humorous ‘ditty’ which illustrated the ‘jovial rivalry’ between the ‘Kirkby’ and ‘Sutton’ people who were represented at this event, (and there were many of them!) which brought the house down, accompanied by much cheering, clapping, tapping and thumping on the tables! Kevin’s antics certainly added to the festive banter on this occasion.
Presentation of Brevets and Certificates to various members ensued and the Commander was delighted to promote Mr Tony Wade to the rank of Officer in the Companionate of Merit.
The Commander then gave Mrs Sue Wells, representing the Nepal Leprosy Trust, a cheque for £500 from the Commandery. Mrs Wells was most grateful for this further financial help for those affected by leprosy in Nepal.
The festivities ended around 4.30pm - a wonderful, successful and truly meaningful day for the Commandery.