Prestonian Lecture held in West Lancashire raises money for dermatology charity DEBRA
Dr Michael (Mike) Kearsley was the honoured guest at Swinton Masonic Hall to give a presentation of the union of two rival English lodges, known as the United Grand Lodge of England, through the perspective of three individuals who each played an important role in the union. They were Frederick Augustus, Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master; William White, the first Grand Secretary and Sir John Soane, the first Grand Superintendent of Works.
The emergency meeting was held by special dispensation and was hosted by Egerton Worsley Lodge No. 1213. On the nomination of the Board of General Purposes, the trustees of the Prestonian Fund appointed Mike as the Prestonian Lecturer for 2014. The subject is, ‘1814 Consolidation and Change: the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England’.
Mike is a former student of Liverpool University and he is the new editor of The Square masonic magazine, as well as being the Provincial Grand Orator for Middlesex. Since his appointment in January Mike has travelled to Israel, Portugal, Greece, Bermuda, New Jersey and New York to present his lectures and is planning to visit South Africa, Gibraltar, Sweden, Canada and hopefully his homeland of New Zealand.
Eccles Group Chairman Dave Walmsley greeted Mike along with grand officers, Stuart Shae, Ven Alan Wolstencroft, David McCormick, Tony Edden and Alex Neilson. Mike was welcomed into the lodge by IPM Frank Woodcock who was standing in for the worshipful master John Tooley, who was recovering from a hip and knee replacement who had sent his personal apologies to Mike.
The brethren were held for more than an hour by Mike with what can only be described as an impeccable presentation delivered in a professional manner. On conclusion of his presentation, Mike produced his book about the Prestonian Lectures and requested that if any brethren wished to have a signed copy that they offer a donation to Mike’s chosen charity DEBRA.
DEBRA is the national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Epidermolysis Bullosa is a group of rare genetic skin conditions, which is characterised by extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation, resulting from minor mechanical friction or trauma. It is referred to as the worst condition you've never heard of.
The skin has two layers: the outer layer is called the epidermis and the inner layer the dermis. Normally, there are 'anchors' between the two layers that prevent them from moving independently from one another. In people with EB, the two skin layers lack the anchors that hold them together and any action that creates friction between the layers, (like rubbing or pressure), will create blisters and painful sores. Sufferers of EB have compared the sores to third-degree burns.
The event was attended by over 80 brethren who were all magnetised by the very informative presentation delivered with lots of knowledge, a hint of humour and held the attention of the brethren who were fortunate to witness this special event.
At the festive board, in his toast to Mike, Ven Alan Wolstencroft paid homage to a wonderful evening provided by Mike and one that he was privileged to bear witness to and thanked him on behalf of all the brethren.
Mike responded saying that he has two responses, a short one and a long one: 'The first one is thank you and the second one is thank you very much.'
Group chairman Dave Walmsley presented Mike with the traditional Eccles cakes and expressed that he would always be welcome to visit Eccles sometime in the future. Mike thanked Dave and also his thanks to Stuart Shae and Godfrey Calcutt for organising the event and to all the brethren for their hospitality.
Brave Connor Marsden’s life has been transformed thanks to a new wheelchair, which has given him a real sense of independence, says his delighted mum Cath.
For the brave 15-year-old, the simplest of tasks can be virtually impossible due to the severe nature of his skin condition, which leaves his skin blistered and sore at the slightest touch.
Connor, from Blackbrook, suffers from the painful genetic disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), meaning his movement is severely restricted. Swathed in bandages, his delicate skin must be protected at all times.
But thanks to the efforts of members of the masonic lodges of St Helens and Prescot, he has recently taken delivery of a brand new chair.
Mum Cath, 48, said: 'He loves it. It’s given him much more independence. He will go out and about in it and I am over the moon.
'Now he can do his own thing. The chair is fantastic. He can alter the level, so when he goes watching rugby, he can raise himself up.
'We went to the arcades in Blackpool and he really enjoyed himself. His quality of life is so much different and feels better in himself. We should have got one a long time ago.'
The Lodges have raised around £20,000 for the charity DebRA, which helps those affected by EB, either directly or indirectly.
Tony Eckersall, Regional Fundraising Manager for the charity said: 'Connor was in need of an electric wheelchair to give him the freedom that we all take so much for granted. I am pleased that part of the funds raised by the Freemasons has been used to purchase this fantastic item.'
Anyone wishing to know more about DebRA is asked to call Tony Eckersall on 0161 286 5340 or 07786 575512.