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Mar 19, 2013 10:24 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Green Valley snowbird heads across the pond to meet the Queen

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz.- This month Joseph Cotterill is celebrating his 96th birthday and he's about to receive quite the royal gift.

Cotterill and his wife Joyce are traveling to his native England, where Cotterill will come face to face with the face of England. "I was fairly close to George V when he opened the public library in Manchester, but that was in the 1930s," Cotterill says.

This time around Cotterill, who was born in Yorkshire, will most likely get to shake hands with royalty. In January he received a letter from Buckingham Palace that says the Queen will honor him at the Royal Maundy Thursday services on March 28. "She has been a sign of stability for the 60 years she has been on the throne, so I feel it's a great honor to meet the Queen," Cotterill says.

Cotterill will be among 87 men and 87 women honored by the 87-year-old Queen, all for their service to Christianity and their communities through the years. Cotterill was a missionary in China in the 1940s. Since the 1960s he has led Episcopalian churches across England.

Cotterill is most looking forward to shaking the Queen's hand and perhaps having a word or two with her. "I think I would just like to say 'thank you, ma'am'," Cotterill says with a smile.

But first, his wife Joyce says he has some prepping to do. "I think he has to practice his bow."

Joseph and Joyce Cotterill will arrive in England on Thursday.

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