West Lancashire's 154th Grand Masonic Festival and Ball is the highlight of the Provincial social calendar

Over 530 brethren, companions and their ladies from across the Province joined Mark Matthews, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, and Joe Hall, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, at the Premier Suite, Reebok Centre, Horwich.

The evening started with a formal reception for all installed Masters and First Principals where there was an opportunity to meet the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones and the Deputy Grand Superintendent Steven Reid. The Quayside Jazzmen played music during the reception. 

After the reception Howard and his daughter Mrs Lindsey Young led the Provincial party into the Ball room where they took their seats for a sumptuous four course dinner of Beetroot cured Salmon with French dressing and vegetable crisps, Daube of Beef and Yorkshire pudding with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables followed by chocolate raspberry tart with white chocolate sauce followed by a selection of fine English cheeses. 

After the meal Mark expressed his and Joe’s thanks along with the whole Province to the organising committee. He thanked Ray Dainton for playing piano music at dinner, he then said special thanks go to the members of the organising committee: Mike Kinsella (Hon treasurer), David Lea (Hon secretary) and Glynn Wrenall (Hon event co-ordinator) he then presented flowers to their wives. 

Howard then said he wanted to give special thanks to David Lea, who is retiring after 16 years as secretary. Howard said that David’s first ball was in 1998 and David and his wife Alma had organised 17 Grand Masonic Ball’s and the Province thanked them both for their hard work. 

Before dancing commenced to music by the Pyramid Band, everyone joined in the Grand march led by Howard and Lindsey. 

All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 09:42

A special night for Crosby Lodge No. 3714

The members of Crosby Lodge No. 3714 and their many guests gathered in Bootle Masonic Hall to celebrate the lodge centenary and the investiture of Derek Parkinson as Assistant Provincial Grand Master

The Master of the lodge Graham Chambers had the pleasure of welcoming the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones who entered the lodge room accompanied by his full entourage of grand and Provincial grand officers in a magnificent and colourful procession.

Graham ceded the gavel to Howard who took the chair and nominated his Provincial officers for this special opening of Provincial Grand Lodge. These included Mark Dimelow who acted as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews Senior Warden, Joe Hall Junior Warden, Rev Can Geoffrey Hirst Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain, Peter Taylor Provincial Grand Secretary, Keith Kemp Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Neil McSymond DGDC, John Fielding Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Peter Hughes and John Gibbon Provincial Deacons, Antony Hill and Stuart Kane Standard Bearers, Gordon Ivett Pursuivant and Frank Kennedy Tyler. They were accompanied by three APrGMs Ray Martland, Tony Harrison and John Hutton and two PPRAGMs David McCormick and John Moore and several other grand officers.

The Bootle Group was represented by chairman Ian Gee, vice chairman John Marsden and secretary Ray Barrow.

After opening Provincial Grand Lodge Howard said: 'Brethren I am delighted to be here with my Provincial team we are here this evening for two special reasons the first is to invest Derek Parkinson as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master for this Province and the second is to celebrate 100 years to the day that Crosby Lodge was consecrated, Howard said the meeting is able to be held thanks to a dispensation that has been granted.

Howard stated that the first item was to invest Derek and it was an honour and a privilege to carry out the investiture on behalf on the Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker who was unable to attend due to illness.

A deputation was then formed to bring Derek into the lodge to which Howard welcomed him in. Howard read out Derek’s masonic history from when he was initiated into Cleveleys Park Lodge No. 7540 by his father and was installed as worshipful Master in 1988 to his appointment as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals two years ago. Howard said that his service to Freemasonry both in the Craft as well a Royal Arch was exemplary and that his CV was highly commendable.

Derek was asked if he was willing to undertake the responsibilities and duties of the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master, to which he replied, I am. Peter Taylor then read out the certificate of office signed by the Provincial Grand Master.

Derek then knelt and took the solemn obligation of an APrGM. Howard invested Derek with the chain of his office and thanked him on behalf of Peter Hosker for accepting this important office. The brethren then saluted John with the grand or royal sign five times.

The centenary celebration then got underway. Howard said 'Crosby Lodge No. 3714 has prospered and its members can be justly proud of what has been achieved in its 100 years.'

He then called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary to read the Centenary Warrant issued by the Grand Master which he did. This document also gives the lodge members permission to wear a special Centenary jewel. Howard then presented the Centenary Warrant to Graham who promised that it would be preserved, for subsequent masters pure and unsullied as he received it. 

Howard then called upon Rev Can Geoffrey Hirst to deliver an oration to the lodge. What followed was truly an oration of quality, eloquence and erudition which held the assembled brethren spellbound. At the conclusion of his oration, Geoffrey was congratulated by Howard for his oration. The assembled brethren concurred with applause.

Next followed a prayer of rededication, given by Geoffrey. Howard then closed Provincial Grand Lodge. Howard returned the gavel to Graham who resumed the WM’s chair.

Graham then rose and thanked the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the wonderful and enjoyable ceremony. He then presented Howard with three cheques, £214 for PALMA - Liverpool Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit, £500 to the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity and £3,000 to FROTH – Friends of the hall. Howard thanked the lodge members for their generous contributions to these most worthwhile causes.

The Provincial party then retired in an equally magnificent and colourful procession to a sumptuous festive board. 

Nobody present could fail to be impressed by the dignified and stately manner in which this important and historic landmark had been celebrated by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and his officers and by the officers and brethren of Crosby Lodge No. 3714.

Over 70 brethren enjoyed a wonderful meal and good company at the festive board.

Fallowfield Lodge No. 3693 celebrates its centenary meeting

The centenary meeting of the lodge was held in the Westbourne Suite at Urmston Masonic Hall and was very well attended. The Worshipful Master Andrew Davies requested the secretary, Ron Spragg to read out the special dispensation before opening the lodge.

The lodge members and visitors alike were then most pleased to receive an expected knock on the door from the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp announcing that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones was without and demanded admission.

The lodge room rose and were pleased to receive Howard accompanied by John Hutton (AsstProvGM) Mike Adams (group chairman) and grand officers Chris McNab and David Durling, along with his provincial team entered the temple in a magnificent, colourful procession

Keith introduced Howard to Andrew and acceded to Andrew’s request to accept the gavel of the lodge and he took his place in the chair of King Solomon.

Howard commenced his introduction and remarked on certain centennial dates which liaised with the same year as the Fallowfield Lodge's inception. The comparisons were that on the same evening as Fallowfield had been consecrated there was a famous boxing match taking place in Paris, France, between the two American boxers Jim Johnson and Jack Johnson. Similarly in that same year, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe made a debut, and composer Benjamin Brittan was born.

Howard opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the acting Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hurst to give an oration to the lodge. Godfrey started his oration by a reference to the game of poolsticks, where in the era of the lodge commencing its era, where youngsters, from a bridge over a river, would throw sticks into the water and see whose stick would reach a designated point first would be the winner. In the era of a lodge, the sticks would represent people and the flowing water represents change, and so his oration flowed with many references and very interesting analogies. Godfrey then related his oration to the lodge banner and gave a very interesting interpretation of the lodge's Latin motto ‘Quadrage Simus Septimus’ and its ordinal numeric reference.

On completion of Godfrey’s presentation, Howard thanked him for a very interesting and thought provoking oration. Howard called the brethren to the attention of Godfrey for a prayer of re-dedication after which, Howard closed Provincial Grand Lodge and handed the gavel back over to Andrew Davies.

Having resumed his position, Andrew asked the secretary Ron Spragg to read out the minutes of the consecration meeting as recorded on the lodge's minute book. It started ‘at past 4 o'clock’ continued by an interesting dialogue including tools presented in the three degrees by Bro Wilmslow and a presentation of 10 guineas towards the lodge charity account. The lodge closed at 6.20pm.

On completion of the ceremony, Andrew rose to thank Howard along with the Provincial team for making the evening such a special occasion, and handed over a number of envelopes containing charitable donations. Howard was absolutely delighted to receive the donations made out in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. One was for £1,500, one for £1,000 and the third donation was made out in favour of the Urmston Masonic Hall fund for £1,193 - a total of £3,693, that being the number of the lodge.

Howard thanked the lodge on behalf of all those who, through the charity, would eventually benefit by such kind generosity and was equally pleased to see the same generosity towards the Urmston Masonic Hall fund.

ProvGDC Keith Kemp then commandeered the proceedings with excellent precision and the provincial team exited in the same inimitable, magnificent colourful procession.

The lodge having closed, the celebrations were continued at the festive board and there was an exceptional event of joviality and concord.

David Durling produced a centenary table card which had interesting points of information relating to Fallowfield's consecration year. Just a selection of those, some of which we take for granted today were as follows: potato crisps were produced commercially for the first time, stainless steel was invented in Sheffield, the first Chelsea Flower Show was held in London. The UK had a Liberal government, the suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V horse at the Derby race and to compare against current day communications, news reached London of the failure of Captain Scott’s 1912 polar expedition.

Howard in his response to the toast to his health congratulated the lodge and commented in saying ‘well done to the founders and well done to the members’. He then offered his own toast to the lodge.

The memorable occasion may have ended, but the history encompassing the lodge founders, clearly making an impression on the minds of the proud lodge members for them to recall in their own Masonic years ahead.

In readiness for the meeting, the lodge produced a centenary booklet containing lodge information and historical notes. The booklet written and assembled by Sylvester During with the researched assistance by members David Emmett, Dalphon Lusack, Cliff Bevan, Sahr Kondeh and Andrew Wallace who all spent hours trawling through the numerous minute books to build the story about the lodge’s existence, produced an excellent conjoined effort which is available to view by clicking here.

More than 130 brethren attended the annual almoner’s dinner, which was held in Wellington Park, Leyland

After the meal the Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh welcomed Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master, and the guest speaker Col Sylvia Quayle OBE. Ernie thanked everyone for attending the dinner and said he hoped the evening would prove to be both interesting and enjoyable.

Peter Hosker then said: 'In this Province, I think we can all be proud of our long history of Care and Charity. Indeed, it is now 163 years since our first Provincial charity was created, and we have come a long way since then. Our masonic care and charity is made up of four parts.

'One: a Provincial Care Structure serving the Province. Two: a Provincial Charity Structure serving the Province. Three: the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity (WLFC) our own Provincial One Stop Charity, a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds. And four: our four main national charities operating under the banner of Freemasonry Cares.

'The excellent Provincial care and charity structures were put in place by my predecessor. In turn, in 2008, I was pleased to play a major part in bringing together the then seven Provincial charities to create our WLFC, our own Provincial one-stop-charity a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds.'

'Freemasonry Cares was launched in 2009, in partnership with the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges and promotes awareness amongst Freemasons and their dependants of the wide range of financial, healthcare and family support available from masonic charities and delivered by a central enquiry service.

'The Province of West Lancashire provides a dedicated care structure in support of brethren, widows and dependants who at times of sickness, personal distress or financial hardship are in need of masonic assistance. Our care structure is extensive and is overseen by AsstProvGM Ray Martland.

'Ernie Greenhalgh, was appointed last May, since then he has been a whirlwind of frenzied activity. His enthusiasm for the new presentation 'How do I get help' has been infectious and I am quite sure that as it rolls out the presentation across the Province, it will be well received. I have seen this excellent presentation, and I particularly like the video case studies which will appear on our Provincial website. Presently, the video running is a case study revealing the help and support received by a Preston family from the RMTGB.

'Invitations for the care presentation ‘How do I get Help’ now stand at 57 which is just over a third of Ernie's target of 160 during this masonic season. By the end of this month 14 presentations will have been given. The video has turned out to be a very powerful aid, particularly as it shows a family from our Province saying that Freemasonry has changed the lives of their whole family.

'Ernie is ably supported by his Deputy Paul Webster, Roy Pyne the administrative link with the Grand Charity, eight regional care officers, 24 local care officers, and by over 500 Craft and Royal Arch almoners. They make up the ground force - they bear the heat of the day. It is demanding work, and I thank them all for their substantial and tireless efforts.

'I wish to mention the Pastoral Care undertaken by our care structure. This can only be carried out by going to and visiting people - it cannot be done on the telephone. This enables the problem to be identified and help assessed. It breaks down into three separate areas. One: visiting people who are sick. Two: visiting people who have lost their partner and are lonely. Three: visiting those  who need some form of help either financial or otherwise.

'It is essential that the Provincial Almoner and his team continue their good work, and are ready willing and able to help and support when people need our help.'

Ernie thanked Peter for his kind words and then said: 'Since I came into office some of you will remember my two favourite words ‘communications’  and ‘training’, well now I have a phrase to go with them ‘working in harmony’.

'I am delighted to see Barry Jameson and a number of charity stewards here as we start to work even  closer  than  in the past. Together they will be supporting our team when the presentation ‘How do I get Help’ are given.

'But  it  does  not  stop  there, our  four central  masonic  charities are working ever more closely and the latest initiative is the coming together of both Welfare teams from the RMBI and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. While we have always had a good liaison with Elaine Hanson and Claire Beaumont, I believe it will improve even more in the coming months.

'The West Lancashire project run by the RMBI for the benefit of elderly brethren and their dependants within our Province, has now been closed to new applicants. However, I am delighted to announce tonight that the trustees of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity have agreed to take over the role of assisting with third party top-up-fees, should the State not meet the full cost. On behalf of us all, I thank the WLFC for taking over what is becoming an area of concern within ‘Care’.

'While I have always had an admiration for the work carried out by SSAFA the armed forces charity which provides lifelong support for our servicemen and women, together with their families. Their volunteers who are the equivalent of our almoners have an excellent professional approach. In the care structure we continue to move forward, but still have some way to go before we achieve that high standard. So I was delighted when  a  senior speaker from SSAFA accepted my invitation to address you all tonight.'

Just before Ernie introduced Sylvia he thanked all the almoners for the dedication and hard work they have already put in during the year. He said this made him feel confident that their professionalism will shine through. He said they are well on target to reach the 160 presentations in this masonic season.

He concluded by saying to all the team, when presenting ‘How do I get Help’ the experience is something you should enjoy, our story and video have a very powerful message.

Ernie then introduced Colonel Sylvia Quayle saying she is a Freeman of the City of London, the first lady to be invited onto the board of trustees for the RMBI and earlier this year the Queen honoured her with the OBE for her charitable work.

Sylvia started by giving a short outline of SSAFA’s history which was founded in 1885. She then spoke about the work carried out by SSAFA, their training and how they go about helping individuals in need.

During her talk Sylvia said she realised that in comparison to SSAFA the masonic movement was small, but both organisations have the same ethos in helping and looking after its comrades.

 

Monday, 18 November 2013 00:00

Hesketh Lodge No. 986 celebrates 150 years

There was a large gathering of brethren at Wellington Park, Leyland, for a very special anniversary meeting, the purpose being that of celebrating 150 years of masonic service of Hesketh Lodge No. 986

In fact there were over 150 brethren in attendance to mark the lodge’s milestone. The atmosphere was one which was full of anticipation of the celebration ahead and there was a real buzz around the lodge room.

The lodge was opened by the current worshipful master, Ian Smith, who before the meeting was full of the apprehension a ceremony of this nature could stir. Once he was into his stride though he very quickly despatched the lodge business and admitted Ray Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, into the lodge room. Ian, out of courtesy and as a right, offered the lodge gavel to Ray who, on this occasion retained it as it was befitting for this celebratory ceremony. Ray started by saying: 'Are we all sitting comfortably?' He then set about telling a brief and concise history of the lodge.

Hesketh Lodge was consecrated in 1863 when there were other notable and historical facts in the same year. Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Prime Minister was Viscount Palmerston and the first section of the London underground was completed. The FA was founded at the Freemasons Arms in Long Acre, London and scarlet fever caused 30,000 deaths.

At a meeting of the Lodge of Harmony held at Ormskirk, Lancashire, on 26 August 1863, the petition to form Hesketh lodge was signed. At this time there were only 85 lodges in the whole of Lancashire of which 55 were in East Lancashire and 30 in what is now West Lancashire. The Province now has 367 lodges.

It was decided that the first meeting would be held on the third Tuesday in November at the Grapes Inn, Croston, and to have the warrant read and the master installed. The annual subscription was one guinea for 33 years with an initiation fee of 5 guineas. Hesketh Lodge is the mother lodge of a number of other lodges including Carnarvon Lodge No. 2376, Coppull Lodge No. 4232, St Michael’s Lodge No. 5756, Eccleston Lodge No. 7754 and Tarleton Lodge No. 7871.

Ray asked the members of the lodge to stand and he commented that it gave him great pleasure to be able to say thank you to those brethren whose foresight and enthusiasm made it possible in the founding of this lodge. He went on to congratulate them and their successors on a happy and successful one and a half centuries of service to Freemasonry. He concluded the celebration by saying that he hoped the lodge would be refreshed and reinvigorated and may they continue to enjoy the friendship and the good fellowship of this, the world’s finest fraternal organisation.

Once Ray had completed his oration he invited Ian back into the chair before he was presented with a number of cheques. These cheques were each written out for the sum of £986, the number of the lodge, and there were six in total. Two were written out to the Wellington Park Masonic Hall loan reduction fund and one each to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, St Catherine’s Hospice, Derian House and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. Ray thanked the lodge for their kind donations. He also said that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, had sent his good wishes and celebratory congratulations and wished the lodge health and happiness for the future.

There were eight toasts on the toast list for the evening and following the first toast to the Queen the most important one was indeed the toast to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ray Martland. In his reply Ray was more than pleased to be offered the opportunity to be present at the occasion. He brought his own best wishes to the lodge and thanked every member and their predecessors for having ensured the well being of the lodge. He said that he hoped the lodge would continue to thrive for at least another 50 years but quipped, and conceded that he didn’t think that he would be present at that occasion.

Stewart Seddon the Leyland Group Chairman then proposed the next toast of the evening that to Hesketh Lodge No. 986. He started by thanking the lodge secretary David Lloyd for affording him the pleasure of being able to make the toast. He also mentioned that the lodge members are merely custodians of Freemasonry and past performance is no guarantee of future success – the immediate future of the lodge rests in their hands. He also mentioned that 50 years ago at the lodge’s centenary celebration there were three lodge members who were also at this celebration too. Jack Staziker a member for 65 years, David Johnson a member for 55 years and Alan Heald a member who will celebrate his 50 years in the coming weeks.

Ian Smith responded to this toast on behalf of the lodge and saying what an honour it had been for him to have served as WM in the lodge’s 150th year. He praised the organising committee for all their hard work preparing for the big day and thanked Ray and the Provincial team for attending and making the day additionally special.

At the end of a very enjoyable day’s celebration every lodge member and visitor went home happy and with the knowledge that they had witnessed and been a part of Hesketh lodge’s 150 year celebration. Each were gifted with cuff links which had been embossed with the lodge crest as a memento of this special evening.

Monday, 11 November 2013 00:00

Centenary of Sincerity Lodge No. 3677

Sincerity Lodge No. 3677 is unique in several ways. It has just celebrated its centenary but has actually worked continuously since 1786, that is what makes it unique in English masonic history

Formerly the Lodge of Sincerity No. 486 under the Moderns Grand Lodge it joined the Liverpool and Wigan masonic rebellion of around 1818 and was amongst the lodges in Lancashire which revived the Antients Grand Lodge which became eventually the Grand Lodge in Wigan with the Lodge of Sincerity at its head as Lodge No 1.

The story is a fascinating one which went on for 90 years, but eventually with the wise council of Col James Murray, a Past Grand Treasurer of United Grand Lodge and a Wigan mason, the lodge was re-constituted, all the members re-obligated and it returned to United Grand Lodge on 26 September 1913.

Since then it has continued to work in the Wigan area and now meets at Bryn Masonic Hall, in Ashton in Makerfield, where it is proving to be quite successful with two Fellowcrafts and three Entered Apprentices currently amongst its membership.

The centenary was presided over by the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, who opened a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge for the occasion, assisted by Howard Jones, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Tony Bent along with Mark Matthews, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, and Joe Hall, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, and 16 other acting Provincial grand officers.

The Provincial Grand Secretary, Peter Taylor, read the centenary warrant. It was then presented to Ian Dawson the Worshipful Master of Sincerity Lodge by the Provincial Grand Master who remarked that he was delighted to be able to do so on the unique occasion, the like of which we are unlikely ever to see again - that is until the bi-centenary of the lodge.

Peter also presented Alan with a centenary medal which he said could now be worn by all the member of the lodge who were Master Masons.

An oration was then given Rev Graham Halsall by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, who delivered and interesting insight into Lancashire’s boundary changes that had taken place during the lodges history and the effects they had upon the members.

Graham then gave a prayer of rededication.

The evening’s celebrations were rounded off by the promotion of Malcolm Irving Bell Snr to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden for his work both in Freemasonry and out of it, especially in the Scout movement. Peter praised Malcolm for his outstanding commitment and hard work in the Craft and the community and said his promotion was very well deserved.

Peter then closed the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge and returned the gavel to Ian. Ian thanked Peter and the acting Provincial officers for attending the meeting and making it such a special evening. He then presented Peter with a cheque to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for the sum of £3,677.

After the lodge was closed nearly 100 brethren sat down a very pleasant festive board. Which was followed by the usual toasts. In his response to the toast to his health proposed by Howard Jones, Peter said he was very aware he was following in the footsteps of the previous 15 Provincial Grand Masters since 1826 who had held that office. He said he had looked at the service of Sir Arthur Stanley, who presided at the consecration of the lodge in 1913 and he listed some of his work both in the Craft and the community and said that he hoped that the lodge would celebrate 200 years as a part of the United Grand Lodge of England and that the PrGM who presided over the ceremony would be able to say that the work by Freemasons both in the Craft and community had continued in the tradition set by Sir Arthur Stanley.

Peter concluded by congratulating the members of the lodge on their centenary and said he hoped they would continue their lodges fine traditions, as he firmly believed that we will all be judged by the way we live and the work we do in the community.    

Tony Bent then proposed the toast to Sincerity Lodge No. 3677, which was fully supported by all those present.

A young man from Warrington has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. He is a gifted dancer and has for the last 12 months been training at the Bolshoi Academy, on a self-financing basis

Alex, now 17 and known in Russia as Allessandro Caggegi, became only the fourth British boy in its 240-year history to be accepted into the world famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. He was also the first Britain ever to be accepted straight into the Russian boy’s class, without doing a probationary year.

Alex is currently in New York on a photoshoot with photographer Liz McEachern-Hall.

Alex is a gifted dancer and to be offered a place at one of the world’s leading dance academies is an achievement in its own right - however with fees in excess of €17,000 per year, finding the funds has been a battle for his mother, and in times of austerity this task has become even more arduous.

Applying for numerous grants from many differing sources, Alex’s mother Louise eventually came across the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, on reading the application proposed by Louise they were inspired to grant some money, in total they have contributed £5,000 towards the fees.

Whilst studying with the Bolshoi, Alex will cover classical dance repertoire, pas de deux, historical dance, acting, modern choreography, the Russian language classes and classes of professional education.

The 84th Southport Flower Show gets off to a fantastic start with some beautiful weather

The show runs between 15th-18th August and the organisers expect over 70,000 through the gate. Visitors who will see many varied and unusual garden designs and two designed by youngsters in a competition sponsored by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

The Schools Design-a-Garden Garden Competition is a prestigious event and has been won this year by Natasha Croft, from Charles Saer Community Primary School in Fleetwood, and Sascha Swindells from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Farnworth. Their winning designs were chosen by a panel of judges from West Lancashire Freemasons and the gardening world, and then the designs were constructed into real gardens by a professional garden company so that the exceptional quality of the designs could be seen by the many thousands of visitors.

When asked how she felt about being a winning Natasha Croft said: 'I was gobsmacked, it’s amazing to see the garden.'

Anne Wilkinson, Natasha’s teacher who runs the art club at the school, said that this was the third time the school had entered the completion and the prize money would be used to put Natasha’s garden at the front of the new school when it opens in September.

Sascha Swindells commented about her win by saying: 'I was shocked and thrilled. It is really good to see the garden made up.' Hannah McMahon, Sascha’s teacher said that the prize money would be used to enhance the outdoor learning area and that the children will have a say in what is done.

Each year the competition is held in association with the Southport Flower Show and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. It is open to all primary school children in years 5 and 6 from across the North West and gives a chance for the gardeners of the future to create a garden for the show each year. This year there were 681 entries from school children from 36 schools across Lancashire, Cheshire, Manchester and Merseyside.

The two winners, the 10 runners-up, their families and their teachers were all invited to the show to meet Carol Vorderman, the popular TV presenter and Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire, and President of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to be presented with their prizes.

Each of the winning schools received £500 to enhance their school grounds and £50 was awarded to each of the winners. The 10 runners-up received £50 for their schools. An extra prize was given this year, HMP Thorn Cross Prison presented the winners and runners-up with a set of reconditioned gardening tools.

Peter Hosker, said: 'We are delighted to have once again had the opportunity of sponsoring this very prestigious competition. As Freemasons we support many community projects and to get children involved to develop a love of gardening is very worthwhile. The theme this year has been pride and it’s been a fine achievement by all who took part.'

The Chairman of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons, Stewart Seddon, welcomed the newly installed Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Dorothy Gardner and her consort Cllr Melvyn Gardner together with representatives from 19 local charities to the group’s fourth annual Giving Day

After welcoming the guests to Leyland Masonic Hall, Stewart said he was amazed, although not altogether surprised, that the Giving Day has snowballed. He said at the first event in May 2010, presentations were made to just seven charities, with a further four having been assisted during the course of that year. The sum donated at that time amounted to £30,052 which included grants from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and funding was matched by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

Stewart continued by saying: 'Even though we are in the midst of a recession, we are announcing donations amounting to over £154,000 to 31 non-masonic charities'.

Stewart then introduced some of his colleagues who were taking part in the event: 'Ray Martland (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Paul Renton (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals), Chris Blackwell (Leyland Group Vice Chairman), Mike Pinckard (group secretary), John Lucas (group treasurer), Eric Hart (Leyland Group Local Care Officer), Andy Sumner (group publicity officer) and Glynn Wrennall (Group Charity Steward) who, along with his wife Eunice and brother John, organised the day’s event and produced the brochures.'

He then introduced Derek Rooney (Publicity Officer - West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) who explained the structure and the workings of the WLFC.

Ray next announced the names of the charities and the details of the donations they were to receive - and in some cases already had received.

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital £125, Alder Hey Family House Trust £450, Babybeat £200, St Catherine’s Hospice £4,146, Gurkha Welfare Trust £225, Galloway’s Society for the Blind £250 Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund £250, Bowel Cancer UK at Rosemere £257, Bowland-Pennine Mountain Rescue Team £400, McMillan Nurses £650, Derian House Children’s Hospice £4,776, Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £2,294, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust £787.10, Leonard Cheshire Disability £1,000 plus Gift Aid, Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association £1093.50, The Legacy – Rainbow House £2,430, Diabetes UK £1,200, Teddies for Loving Care £2,060, North West Air Ambulance £15,187.10, Masonic Hall Appeal £300, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £12,864.84.

Each recipient gave a brief summary of the work they do in the community - some of which were quite heartbreaking to hear.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability homes in Garstang and Windermere cheques for £500 each plus Gift Aid was money raised from a sponsored walk along the 46 miles of the Preston to Kendal Canal by John Wrennall.

Other charities who have received donations prior to the Giving Day this year are: The Masonic Samaritan Fund £15, Medicine and Chernobyl £50, Eccleston Scouts £125, Eccleston Brownies £125, East Lancashire Hospice £200, St Saviours Church £250, Donna’s Dream House £250, Urology Dept RPH £250, East Lancashire Masonic Benevolent Fund £450, Space Centre £500, Hutton Grammar School £750, Royal College of Surgeons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal £2,790, Cancer Research UK £50,100.

Ray Martland then gave a cheque for £250 from the Leyland and District Group to the Mayor, Cllr Dorothy Gardner for her nominated charities which are Babybeat, St Catherine’s Hospice and Hope-4-Justice.

Dorothy then addressed the Leyland Freemasons present and thanking them for their generosity she made a specific mention of the many recipients of donations, how grateful they were for them and how contributions such as those made would have life changing results for many people. She then spoke about her chosen charities, giving the particular example of Hope-4-Justice which is a charity that helps to provide rescue, rehabilitation, education and public awareness with regard to child prostitution in Penwortham.

The Giving Day event was formerly closed with Chris Blackwell, vice chairman of the group thanking the representatives of the charities for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. Many of the guests were given a tour of the Masonic hall.

The total donations to non-masonic charities during the past 12 months from the Leyland and District Group including The Grand Charity was £154,043.50

The total donations to masonic charities were £16,319.84 making a grand total of £170,363.34

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 01:00

Southport Flower Show opens its gates

Over 80,000 people are expected to visit Southport Flower Show this year, to see the gardens designed by two youngsters in a competition sponsored by the West Lancashire Freemasons

The prestigious David Bellamy School Garden Competition has been won this year by Jessica Simpson from Ashbridge Independent School in Preston and Mia Hodkinson and Emma Chapman who made a joint entry from Stanton Road Primary School in the Wirral.  The competition is held each year in association with Southport Flower Show and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, and gives a chance for the gardeners of the future to create a garden for the show each year. It is open to all primary school children in years 5 and 6 across the North West, and this year’s competition was entered by 276 children across Lancashire, Cheshire, Manchester and Merseyside.

The two winning designs, chosen by a panel of judges, were once again constructed by a professional garden company and were there for all to see when the show opened on Thursday 16 August.

The two winners, their families and their teachers were invited to the show to meet Professor David Bellamy OBE and be presented with £500 to enhance their school grounds, and a £50 gift voucher for themselves.

The head teacher, from Ashbridge Independent School, Hilary Sharples, said: "This is the first time our school has entered the competition and we're extremely proud that one of our students has won - it is fantastic to see the garden come to life at the show. This is a great competition giving children the opportunity to link their design skills with a love of wildlife and horticulture - encouraging creativity while also helping the planet.”

Ashbridge Independent School plan to use the £500 to develop an area within their grounds which will encourage bees and butterflies to visit the school and nursery, and also to extend the wildflower meadow for the youngest children in the baby unit.

Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire, and President of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity said: ”We are delighted to have once again had the opportunity of sponsoring this very prestigious competition. As Freemasons we support many community projects and to get children involved in gardening is very worthwhile.”

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