Parishioners at St Mary’s Cathedral were delighted to share in the celebrations as Lourdes head handmaid Chris Tillotson was presented with the Benemerenti medal.

Chris was taken by surprise as Bishop Terry called her onto the altar during Sunday morning Mass.

Chris is an inspiration to all who know her, working tirelessly for Lourdes and numerous other good causes throughout the diocese.

She has been involved in planning the pilgrimage for 10 years and also helps organise the conference of Lourdes directors.

Since being appointed head handmaid in 2012 she has brought in many innovations, introducing the formation day and health and safety protocols, as well as the famous Lourdes tea parties, both on the pilgrimage and back home in Middlesbrough and Hull.

During the Covid19 pandemic she has constantly kept in touch with our supported pilgrims offering any help possible, making sure they are in contact with someone while in isolation. 

She is a Eucharistic Minister in the cathedral parish, helped organise the Millennium Mass at the Riverside in 2000 and has played an important role in running the diocesan youth service.

Chris, who is married to Lourdes Director Keith and has three children and seven grandchildren, has also organised fundraising events including shows at Middlesbrough Theatre, race nights, Irish nights and bingo, to name but a few.

Congratulations, Chris – the papal honour couldn’t go to a more deserving person.