Fun day out for Derbyshire kids
Derbyshire children with additional or special educational needs had a fantastic day on Friday, 22nd April, when they attended the fifth annual funfair organised and supported by the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity.
Over 1,200 children from 27 different groups from all around the Province enjoyed free coach transfers from and back to their schools. They were treated to as many free fairground rides as they could fit in, as well as hot dogs, candy floss and refreshments.
Since its inception in 2012, when the first 500 children attended, it has now become the highlight of the year for many and continues to grow from strength to strength.
The fair was initially organised after showmen noticed that some children with special needs were being ridiculed by some less sympathetic members of the public. Children with autism, downs syndrome, learning difficulties and mobility problems were not attending due to these taunts.
This was distressing for the children and their parents and carers. A survey had revealed that 79% of these children felt socially isolated and 28% questioned had actually been asked to leave a public place.
As a result, the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity was asked whether it would be prepared to organise and support a funfair if the showmen provided the rides and facilities at one of their sites. The Freemasons of Derbyshire are delighted to work in partnership with Erewash Borough Council, who provide the site, to arrange such an event for the enjoyment and betterment of the community at large.
The children come from schools and other specialist provisions in Buxton, High Peak, Burton-on-Trent, Central Derby, Alfreton, Chinley and other areas from around the Province.
As usual the Fire and Rescue Service, Police and St John's Ambulance all attended to support the event. This year saw Emporium Productions filming for a documentary to be screened on Sky TV early next year, as well as Radio Derby reporting live on the day and articles in the press from the Derby Evening Telegraph and Nottingham Post. The event will also be covered in the Showman’s trade newspaper, The World’s Fair.
The event as always was organised for the Provincial Grand Charity by W Bros Philip Bowler and Graham Sisson.
Everyone’s a winner
More than 700 children and carers visited the second annual funfair for people with additional needs. Organised at Long Eaton by Derbyshire masons, the event was held for children with conditions such as Down’s syndrome and autism, and for those with extreme learning difficulties. Also involved were Erewash Borough Council, the Showmen’s Guild, McKean’s Amusements, St John Ambulance, and the local police and fire service. Showmen’s Guild president David Wallis, Erewash Mayor Cllr Jennifer Hulls, Derbyshire PGM Graham Rudd and Michael McKean all gave their support, while the children each went home clutching a teddy bear provided by the Province.
To find out more about the work of the Showmen’s Lodge>>>
Thanks to the generosity of Freemasons in the Nottingham area, more than 200 children with disabilities were able to enjoy all the fun of the fair.
Members came from three lodges – Edwalton Lodge, No. 8214, and St Giles Lodge, No. 4316, both from Nottingham, and the Showman’s Lodge, No. 9826, from Loughborough. They worked with The Showmen’s Guild to make this fun day a reality.
Gordon Cowieson of Edwalton Lodge said, ‘The Showmen’s Guild has been really generous once again in opening up the fairground at Bramcote Hills Park a day early in support of children with special needs. In addition to experiencing the rides, the children also get to enjoy the usual hot dogs, beefburgers, candyfloss and ice cream.’
Peter Barratt, also of Edwalton Lodge, added, ‘The lodges involved raise funds throughout the year to cover the cost of running the event and then give generously of their time on the day to make sure it is a safe and enjoyable occasion for all.’
A key supporter of the event was the Nottingham masonic charity Teddies for Loving Care (TLC), which gave a donation towards running costs. TLC also had a stall at the fairground and ensured that every child who attended left with their own teddy bear. Also enjoying the day were the Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, Robin Wilson, and his wife Margaret, plus the Mayor of Broxtowe.
Specialist lodges: all the fun of the fair
A newly-consecrated lodge has been set up for travelling showmen, John Jackson reports
When the ancient Goose Fair, well over 700 years old, gets underway at Nottingham in October, among the showmen who will be entertaining the thousands of visitors will be members of a newly consecrated Lodge, The Showmen’s No. 9826.
Showmen have been associated with fairs as far back as at least Roman times, the word ‘fair’ deriving from the Latin word ‘feria’ meaning ‘holiday’. As fairgrounds became established, many were granted charter status by the sovereign, and a number of these charter fairs exist today with their showmen in attendance.
These include King’s Lynn, under a charter granted by King John in 1204, which traditionally starts the travelling showmen’s season on St Valentine’s Day – 14 February.
The association with the church still continues to this day, for the opening ceremony at King’s Lynn begins with a blessing from the Mayor’s Chaplain.
These early fairs were originally for the sale of livestock, but quickly attracted the travelling showmen, and many fairs were associated with Saints’ days and the early Christian church.
The granting of a charter by the sovereign was much prized, as it laid down the dates, provided protection against rival fairs and gave the right to collect dues and tolls. In return, there was an obligation to hold the fair on the stated dates.
Many autumn fairs did not have a charter and were known as ‘Mop’ or ‘Hiring’ fairs, and some still exist. At these fairs, prospective employers reviewed potential employees.
Sometimes a second fair – known as a Run-Away Mop – was held for those seeking to change jobs or those who had not found work on the first occasion.
With the showmen travelling hundreds of miles, it has not been easy trying to put a Lodge together for such a mobile group of Masons. The original idea came from secretary Paul Maltby, but it would not have got off the ground but for the enthusiasm of Darren Jones, first Master, and his Uncle Jimmy Wheatley, first Senior Warden.
The Lodge, consecrated in February, has 31 founders – all showmen – and many of them run the big rides, so popular with children. It was because they were so scattered that the idea of a Lodge arose. However, the plan has been an instant success, with seven candidates lining up to become Masons as well as five joining members waiting to come on board. The Lodge will hold its meetings at Loughborough in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, whose Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Michael H Roalfe, officiated at the consecration meeting.
The Lodge was also given a great deal of help by Richard Moss of Belper Masonic Regalia in Derbyshire.
Summer is the busiest time for showmen, so the Lodge will be meeting five times a year ‘out of season’ in September, November, December, January and February.
Although showmen are spread over the country, there is a central organisation, the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, which is both a trade union and trade association, and was originally formed around 1888-1889 as the United Kingdom Van Dwellers Protection Association (the Guild). There is also a Showmen's Guild Lodge No. 9089 associated with the Guild, which meets at Clevedon in Somerset.