Mrs Anita Barker, Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, was just one of the guests who attended our Annual Service of Celebration & Renewal of Knightly Vows on a beautiful summer’s day in July in the new venue for King Offa of St Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, which has been a place of praise and worship for over 175 years.
The Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham and was designed and built under renowned architect, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, who also designed the interior of the Houses of Parliament in London. The foundation stone was laid in 1842 by Bishop Nicholas Wiseman, who had brought with him the relics of Saint Barnabas from Rome. At the time of its opening, the Cathedral was the largest Roman Catholic Church to have been built in England since the Reformation. It is one of the hidden gems of the City of Nottingham.
Councillor Mr Kevin Rostance - Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, and his Lady, Mrs Jayne Rostance, were accompanied by Councillor Mr Robert Crowe - Chairman of Newark & District Council, Mr Andy Meakin - Vice Chairman of Ashfield District Council, and his Escort, Miss Stephanie Martin.
The nave looked most impressive with emblems of the Order of St Lazarus as the Commandery of King Offa processed to the accompaniment of a glorious fanfare, played by the organist, Mr Robert Gower. Members and friends were in attendance from other Commanderies within the Grand Priory of England & Wales.
A very warm welcome was extended to all by The Very Reverend Father Malachy Brett, Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral.
The service, led by our Senior Chaplain, The Reverend John Burgess, took its usual form, during which members renewed their vows before the Bailiff of the Grand Priory of England & Wales - His Excellency The Chevalier Charles Holloway, who was accompanied by his wife, Dame Lynne, and the Commander of King Offa – Chevalier Mario Rizzardi.
Miss Rebecca Temple was our soprano soloist for this splendid occasion and her moving performances included ‘Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne’ by George Frederick Handel; ‘Agnus Dei’ from the Coronation Mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and ‘My Heart Every Faithful’ from Cantata No. 68 by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The preacher was The Very Reverend Father Malachy Brett, whose most enlightening and thought-provoking sermon certainly appealed to the congregation of over 50 people.
Hymns for this special service included ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus’, ‘The King of love my Shepherd is’, Immortal, invisible God only wise’, ‘Crown him with many crowns’, and the hymn for the Order – ‘Not for me a life of leisure’ - written by our very own much loved and late member, Chevalier William Summers. The final hymn, ‘Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war’, produced a truly marvellous rendition of this firm favourite from everyone present in the Cathedral.
The National Anthem preceded the procession through the nave to the beautiful garden at the back of St Barnabas Cathedral where many photographs were taken by our Commandery photographer, Mr Andrew Dove.
Our Commandery Piper, Confrere Professor Robert Ashford, piped the Bailiff and Commander into the Ionic Suite where a scrumptious banquet in the Belgrave Rooms (another new venue for our Commandery), followed the pre-dinner drinks. After the customary toasts and speeches, Reverend Dr Brenda Abbott, representative for The Leprosy Mission, and Ms Angela Stafford, representative for LEPRA, were each presented with cheques for £500 by the Bailiff.
Through the generosity of all present, a very acceptable number of prizes (mostly alcoholic) were raffled towards the end of the celebratory banquet, raising £220 to help our recipient charities.
It was a thoroughly brilliant day, leaving us all extremely pleased with the time and effort put in by many people to help our Order celebrate in public.
Consoeur Pamela Levens CLJ
Commandery of King Offa