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The Companions of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (CoM) is a key volunteer force for delivering the charitable work of the Order of Malta in Great Britain — a Catholic religious order and charity. Our mission is ‘to practise our faith and to practise charity’.

We aim to achieve our mission by, amongst other activities, working with the homeless and poor, volunteering in the Order’s care homes around the country, helping the elderly and disabled (especially on pilgrimages), through religious services and prayer, as well as by our support for overseas initiatives like the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem and other projects.

We are organised on a regional basis, with group coordinators in different parts of England and Scotland. Click here to find out more about what we do and where.

Charity Number: 1103567

Company Number: 5039938

Company Number: 5039938 

The Start of The Companions

by Peter Loyd

It was always an embarrassment for me to read how much the other National Associations did compared to us in Great Britain. We held our annual pilgrimage to Lourdes every May and got our youth involved by creating the OMV in 1974. We then went on to start the OSJCT Care homes in 1991, but somehow even this did not galvanise the Order’s membership into action.
It was not until I was appointed Hospitaller in 2001 and discovered that out of the 250 pilgrims coming to Lourdes about 80% were not actual members including at least 15% non-Catholic. Rather like the OMV, a few went on to join the Order, but most could see no added attraction or could not qualify for one reason or the other. It was plain that we were missing a huge opportunity. As discussions with fellow Hospitallers revealed, it seemed we were the only Association that did not have a huge volunteer group underpinning its work. Indeed, even Scotland had started a small Companion group in 1990. We could not go on with some 250 ageing members, we needed at least 1,000 permanent volunteers. My proposal was that anyone who wished to contribute to the works of the Order of Malta, regardless of their religion could become a member of the Companions and any member of the Order of Malta who wished to take part in these works should also be a Companion. By works I meant actively helping on pilgrimages, the Orders of St John Care Trust or The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth and contributing to the Foreign Aid services overseas projects of the worldwide Order and with disaster aid.
Over my time as Hospitaller I continuously proposed the creation of a nationwide Companions society, but it fell on deaf ears. My proposal below, written in November 2005 reads very much as the Companions are today with the notable exception of the wonderful soup kitchens, breakfast clubs and tea parties now held nationwide. It was not until Charles Weld took over as President in 2007 that The Companions were finally created in June 2008

This was my 2005 proposal.

  • Benefits to BASMOM for the creation of an enlarged society of Companions.

  • To give a sense of belonging to our many volunteers.

  • The Order’s Charisma of tuitio fidei and obsequium pauperum attracts a very large and diverse number of people to our eight pointed cross. These include the Companions, the OMV, Lourdes pilgrims, our Foreign Aid Service supporters, the Orders of St John Care Trust supporters and supporters of the St John and St Elizabeth Hospital and Hospice and also the families of members of BASMOM.

  • To clearly transfer risk from BASMOM to Hospitaller Ltd.

  • There remains an assumption by volunteers, especially in Lourdes, that they are working for the Order of Malta and therefore BASMOM. No matter how much mention is made of Hospitaller Ltd in correspondence and booking forms, I am concerned that the veil of incorporation could still be breached. By becoming Companions, under the control of Hospitaller Ltd this would be overcome.

  • Provide a group into which OMV members can progress.

  • Over the past 25 years there have been many thousands of members of the OMV but few have progressed into the Order or even go on to voluntary Hospitaller work. This is in contradiction to one of the main reasons for starting the OMV and the excuse given is that little future work is made available outside full membership of BASMOM. An unnecessary barrier between the OMV and BASMOM has therefore developed.
  • Offer an alternative to full membership of the Order. There are a large number of people who are potential members of BASMOM. However, the majority either fall into the restricted category of Magistral Grace or feel a British awkwardness about having to prove their armorial lineage. These would welcome such an organisation, which would also serve as a diplomatic alternative to those not eligible to join the Order.
  • Create a pool of potential, committed future members. This group would provide a tool for people to demonstrate their interest in the Order’s work in a broader way than the current involvement with the Lourdes Pilgrimage and would also give them the opportunity to fully understand the purpose of the Order before taking the important step of becoming a full member.
  • Provide a framework for a much larger donor base. This large body of people with interest in the Order and its work could form a database of potential donors in response to emergencies around the world.

The enlarged society of Companions of the Order of Malta would differ from the existing Scottish Companions in that they would become an integral part of Hospitaller Ltd. and enjoy the use of the charity registration 110567. The Society would be answerable to the Board of Hospitaller Ltd in the same way as the OMV and have its own council. The Hospitaller would be a member of this council. The Society would have regional delegations incorporating members of the Order and a chaplain. For example Scotland, London, the North East, South West, Midlands etc. The chairman of each delegation would be members of the council. Membership would be by invitation approved by the Council of the Companions.

Members and Companions within a region would be expected to;

  • Further their religious life by holding days of recollection and attending Order Masses and Pilgrimages.

  • Support Order approved local charities by responding to appeals and by initiating fund raising events. These currently include such charities as:- Dial-a-journey, Orders of St John’s Homes Trust houses, The St John’s Hospice.

  • Fundraise for the Orders Foreign Aid Service and Malteser International by responding to appeals and by initiating fund raising events. These currently include:- World disasters attended by Malteser International, The Bethlehem Holy Family Hospital, The Brotherhood of the Blessed, Gerard AIDs Centre.

  • Propose new charitable projects for adoption by the Order.

  • Receive the Order’s Diary of Events applications to purchase the Order’s Christmas cards, invitations to attend the St John’s day Mass etc.

  • Pay a flexible membership fee to cover administrative costs.

September 2023