For the first time in their history, the Leyland Group of Freemasons entered into the spirit of their local festival with the town people of Leyland, Lancashire
Each year the town of Leyland hosts a festival which was started as a children’s fete, dating back to 1889, and was organised by the Sunday school teachers of the Leyland Parish. In recent times the local borough council organise the festivities on behalf of the population of the town with beneficiaries being local charities.
The Leyland Group of Freemasons’ executive decided that they would like to take part in the community festivities and a festival team was formed by their group publicity officer, Andy Sumner. This team quickly determined that they would enter a ’float' in the procession with a theme of ‘Freemasons working in the community’. This year the Leyland group had donated £148,000 to local charities so the theme was an obvious choice and was something which the group was keen to promote. They also arranged for the membership trailer to be hosted on the main festival ground with a Masonic hall open day being arranged for the following day.
On the day of the festival parade, the weather was perfect blue sky with little cloud. The meeting point was King Street car park in the town and John Anderson and Neil Ward, who were instrumental in ensuring that the float’ vehicle and trailer where decorated, took the vehicle to the car park. John also drove through the parade and said afterwards that he was 'proud of what he and the team had achieved in the short time available' and 'was looking forward to next year’s festival already'. Dick Walmsley too had laid the foundation for John to collect the float trailer from a local business for the day. An aura of anticipation began to build from around 10 am that morning with this year seeing up to 100 different floats, vehicles and organisations each with varying themes and colours. There was a real buzz of excitement by the time the parade left the start point to wend its way across town.
For those familiar with the locality of Leyland the parade started out from the car park at 11.45am processing via Turpin Green, Hough Lane, Towngate and on to Worden Park where the main attractions and festivities took place. The Masonic float comprised of a team of eight. There were six walkers in total, four of which were handing out leaflets as the procession progressed through town with a further two brethren sat on the float waving to the public. This being the first time that the Leyland Group had presented themselves in public wearing their regalia (they had ben given dispensation to wear regalia by the Provincial Grand Secretary), each member wore it with pride.
On the park were the main events with dog displays, dance groups and other amazing entertainment with plenty of stalls, activities and displays all around. The membership trailer slotted in well and was located on the main thoroughfare of the park where the team chatted with visitors all afternoon. Terry Challinor’s experience enabled him to organise the collection and siting of the trailer on the park, liaising with the council throughout.
The Leyland Masonic Hall Open Day was held on the Sunday when members of the public had opportunity to visit and be greeted by Freemasons. On arrival, visitors were shown the new UGLE video, ‘Freemasonry What’s it all About’ before being shown around the building followed by a question and answer session. Paul Renton had organised proceedings with the assistance of a small team welcoming visitors and guiding them around the hall. He commented that he was happy with proceedings and that he was looking forward to seeing the benefits of the day.
The weekend proved to be a successful one with a number of potential new members volunteering their details at the membership trailer. It was also deemed to be a very enjoyable weekend with each member having spent time in good company and more importantly with the community of the town of Leyland.