Joy as Waterlooville pensioner gets to meet her lifelong hero '“ The Queen

THE Queen is her hero.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 10:20 am
Updated Friday, 11th March 2016, 10:21 am
Celia Veal has dedicated her life to the community will have the special honour of being presented with Maundy money by the Queen. Picture: Allan Hutchings

Not because of her majesty’s crown or wealth, but because of the commitment to serving her country for as long as she has lived.

Pensioner Celia Veal vowed to do the same in her life and is still getting up at 6am every day to help her local community.

Now the 77-year-old is going to meet her hero after being chosen for a special honour.

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Every year at Easter, the Queen presents special Maundy money to pensioners who have given dedicated service to their local community.

It has been a royal tradition since the 17th century.

This year there will be 90 men and 90 women receiving the coins, one for each year of the Queen’s reign, and the ceremony will take place at Windsor Castle on March 24.

Celia, who is a matron to the choristers at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral, was recommended for the honour by the diocese of Portsmouth.

By coincidence, the day will be extra poignant as it will be Celia’s 54th wedding anniversary to her late husband Gordon Veal, who died at the age of 83 a year ago.

Fighting back tears, Celia said: ‘My sovereign, when she got married, said over the airwaves that she would serve us all for as long as she lived.

‘My life has been about giving just like she has.

‘I think she’s an amazing lady.

‘She has done so much for everybody and always been there.

‘It’s a huge honour for me to be given this. As a volunteer I have always given a lot to people, but I didn’t expect this.’

The great-grandmother, of Trojan Way, Crookhorn, will be attending the ceremony with her daughter Alison Godley.

‘It’s exactly the same time I got married,’ said Celia.

‘My husband will be with me in spirit. I think he would be proud.’

Celia, originally from the midlands, started work at the age of 14 at the Express & Star in Wolverhampton, working as a messenger.

She went on to become a school secretary and was a guider at West Mercia Girl Guides for 26 years.

She is now a member of Gosport, Fareham and District Soroptimists, the international organisation that helps women and girls achieve their full potential, as well as crucifer at St Ann’s Church in Portsmouth naval base and a member of the League of Friends at St Mary’s Hospital.

Celia added: ‘I’ve always been a busy lady.

‘I’m tired sometimes, but it’s part of living.

‘You can’t just sit in a chair – what’s the point?’