This in from Chris Whitehouse, in his own words. Ed
Two pupils of St Saviour’s RC Primary School, Totland, enjoyed a night out in Westminster last week (30th January) that they will never forget.
Oliver Carey and Callum Millar, both aged 9, attended the Investiture of former Government Minister and Strictly Come Dancing star, Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, as a Dame of the Papal Order of St Gregory.
A chance to meet senior politicians
The boys spent time chatting both to Ms Widdecombe and to former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, who was one of many senior politicians attending the event along with several Cabinet Ministers and Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The Investiture was held in the State Apartments of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, following a private mass in the Crypt Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster. The mass was celebrated by His Eminence the Cardinal Emeritus of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O’Connor, and several other prominent Catholic priests. Oliver and Callum were the altar-servers at the Mass.
“A fantastic evening”
Speaking last week, Oliver said, “It was a fantastic evening. We took our altar-servers’ robes all the way to the Palace of Westminster from Totland and were really pleased to be taking part in the mass. There was a great party afterwards in the Speaker’s house and we were asked to be in all the photographs with Ann Widdecombe and the other politicians. Ann’s not at all scary in real life!”
Callum added, “Sir John Major was really nice to meet. I never thought I would get to meet such famous people. The Speakers State Apartments are enormous; we had a tour of all the rooms and I have never seen such a huge bed. But it was the Mass itself that was the best bit. We were right at the front serving at the altar with Cardinal Cormac.”
“They fulfilled their duties with reverence and efficiency”
Ann Widdecombe, who was awarded the Papal honour in recognition of her lifetime of public service, thanked the boys for their contribution to the ceremonies saying: “Callum and Oliver did a fantastic job. They looked truly angelic in their white robes and fulfilled their duties with reverence and efficiency.”
Paula Carey, Oliver’s mother, says: “The boys were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to the Island, but it was a real privilege for them to have been part of such a significant occasion. They will treasure the memories for their whole lives.”
The events were organised by Chris Whitehouse, a candidate for the Newport West Ward in next year’s elections to the Isle of Wight Council, who is a longstanding personal friend of Ann Widdecombe and who was himself awarded a Papal Knighthood by the previous Pope, John Paul II, ten years ago.