Southampton to Australia on the MV Arcadia

Tuesday, 09 July 2013

Masonry across the globe

Provincial Grand Steward Frank Parle was one of 23 masons who attended the first meeting on board MV Arcadia on route to Australia from Southampton. Some of the brethren were from England, some from Australia and some from New Zealand.

Frank said it was great to see that masonry is thriving across the globe.

As quite a number of brethren would be leaving the ship in the southern hemisphere it was decided the three main officers should be selected from those who were going all the way back to Southampton.

After due process Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, was elected president. John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, was elected secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No. 4629, West Lancashire, was elected treasurer.

The second meeting saw three new members join the group and after a little discussion it was decided that during the cruise down to Australia two coffee mornings, a lunch and a cocktail party would be organised.

The first coffee morning in the Crow’s Nest, at which four new members attended, went well and gave the opportunity for masons and their wives to meet and get to know each other in a very informal get together.

At approximately 2 am one morning on the journey to Recife in Brazil, a bump could be felt as the ship crossed the equator. Permission had been previously sought from King Neptune, ruler of the seven seas, for Arcadia to cross the equator. Word came back that permission had been granted and that he would visit Arcadia at 3 pm to perform the ceremony of crossing, which officially changed all those who had not previously crossed the equator from slimy pollywogs to shell backs. All passengers were notified that they were required to attend.

It was agreed at the next meeting a charge of £20 per would be applied for the cocktail reception. Charity funds to be split 50% to the captain’s charity and 50% between English and Australian charities. The Flying Doctor Service in Australia was nominated to receive a donation along with the Grand Charity. It was also agreed that masonic widows would be invited to the next coffee morning and the cocktail party.

While in Montevideo the ship had a change of captain, Trevor Lane left the ship to go home on leave and Sarah Breton came on board and took over command.

The next coffee morning was held in the Orchid Bar and was well attended by masons and their wives along with four masonic widows and one lady mason. Two of the widows came from Wales, one from the Isle of Wight and one from Ilfracombe.

25 members were in attendance at our next meeting. This included one new member who joined the ship in Montevideo. The date for the cocktail reception had been agreed by the captain and would be held in the Retreat, from 4 pm onwards. In an effort to try and increase funds for charity donations a raffle was to be organised, Terry Mitchell and Pieter Swinge volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from onboard shops. A date for the lunch get together to be arranged as soon as possible. Brian Rigby, a member of Preston Guild Lodge No. 4408, West Lancashire, agreed to act as director of ceremonies for the cocktail party.

Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was well attended by a large number of masons and their wives who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a meal and meet new friends. One more new member joined our group at this event.

The next event was the cocktail party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, one lady mason and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canapes in very good company. Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and the toast to the ladies and guests. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Brian Rigby to which Sarah Breton gave a very good response.

There was a very good response from the onboard shops to help raise money for the charities with good number prizes donated. The prizes were an English Cricket Board tie and a book about MV Arcadia from Sarah Breton, Thermal Suite and Hydro Pool day pass, back, neck and shoulder massage from Oasis Spa and a meal for two in the Orchid Restaurant. Prizes donated by members included three bottles of wine, a pendent and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £450 for the charities.

A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor Mark Perreira for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success.

All the money raised will be distributed to the selected charities in the following proportions: 50% to RNLI, captains nominated charity, 25% to Flying Doctor Service in Australia and 25% to The Freemasons' Grand Charity. As the captain had to leave early for other duties Christine Noble, Cruise Director, deputised for her in the group picture.

During the night on the way from Bora Bora to Suva in the south pacific the ship encountered a strange phenomenon when it travelled through a time warp. Having gone to bed on a Tuesday we all arose next morning and it was Thursday. Fortunately no damage was done to the ship and no passengers suffered any ill effects, accept those who lost their birthday!

Our ninth and last meeting for this part of the trip saw 19 members attend the meeting which was arranged to report on the charity donations as many of our Australian brethren would be leaving the ship over the next couple of days. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success as the total raised for charity was £747. Mike Walker was handed £373 which is to go to the captain for her chosen charity. Terry Mitchell was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Flying Doctor Service in Australia and John Strange was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Grand Charity in London.

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