The donation was made by the Masonic Charitable Foundation on behalf of West Lancashire Freemasons, which follows the hospice's bid for a grant to fund a special project. As a result, a visit was arranged from the St Helens and Prescot Group from within the Province of West Lancashire to mark the donation.
Willowbrook was chosen as a recipient in order to aid in the creation of ‘Willowbrook Connections’. This is a three-phase project to aid carers and family members who need support before, during and after the loss of a loved one. Particular emphasis will be placed on assisting children and male relatives, two groups who are often reluctant to seek help.
Specifically, the project will provide a ‘Kids Shack’ where children between the ages of 5 and 16 can come along to after school hours, get to know each other, and take part in activities together. Support will be on hand from trained staff who will engage with the children and help support them in those difficult times.
A similar project will create a ‘Men Shed’, designed to help and support male relatives who are often unwilling to talk about their difficulties.
The St Helens and Prescot Masonic Group has supported Willowbrook since its foundation and donations from the group, as well as from individual lodges and chapters, are an important aid in funding this essential and important local service. Although the hospice does receive aid from central government and the local health authority, this only provides a small percentage of the large sum they require each year to function.
Neil Wright, Willowbrook Hospice CEO, detailed that the hospice costs £4.5 million annually to run and that government support of just £1.5 million left a very large funding deficit. Neil explained that this shortfall had to be filled by appealing for voluntary aid and support from the local and wider community. Money, he said, was raised by various means, with donations and legacies forming a very important part of this fundraising, supplemented by the hospice lottery and income from the hospice.
The Masonic visitors were welcomed by the Chairman of the trustees Alan Chick, who gave a short explanation of the work done by Willowbrook and thanked the Freemasons for their generous donation.
The ‘Willowbrook Connections’ project was then explained by Family Support Therapist Jan Barlow, who explained that she would now be enabled to provide full time support and much more care and therapy for bereaved relatives. She stressed how ‘Willowbrook Connections’ would also provide continuing support for family members of terminally ill patients both pre and post bereavement.
On behalf of the visitors, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent paid tribute to the excellence of the care provided by the hospice and praised the staff for their commitment to delivering that care.
The donation was in response to an appeal by North West Blood Bikes for help in replacing their ageing fleet of motorbikes, which led to two new bikes being purchased and equipped by the Freemasons at a cost of £40,000.
The Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison, along with two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and David Winder, and Steve Kayne, the CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, formally handed over two new liveried BMW R1200RT-P motorbikes to the North West Blood Bikes team.
North West Blood Bikes Fleet Manager Simon Hanson said: 'Since my appointment I have been working with Honda, BMW and multiple charities and local businesses to replace the fleet of 12 liveried motorbikes, as they had mostly done over 80,000 miles and in some cases were over eight years old.
'This very generous donation by the Freemasons in West Lancashire completes my renewal plan and they, along with the other new motorbikes, will greatly reduce the number of breakdowns we have been having with our old fleet. It will also increase our ability to support the NHS out of normal hours (7pm to 2am) in the week and 24/7 at weekends.'
The motorbikes have been built to a specification that is, effectively, the same as that for police vehicles. The only difference is the blood bikes are fitted with a special carrying rack to transport medical items and the police blue paintwork is replaced with orange.
In officially handing over the two vehicles, Tony Harrison said: 'I am delighted to be able to present these motorbikes on behalf of the Freemasons in West Lancashire to North West Blood Bikes, as they will help them in the vital role they play in supporting the NHS in their work.'
On average, North West Blood Bikes respond to over 1,000 calls a month, which their 350 volunteers action using their own motorbikes and cars, and the liveried motorbikes. The 12 liveried motorbikes are used for calls that involve motorway journeys and long distances, as well as during rush hour and moving urgent blood samples and other lifesaving items.
Oscar Lynch, a reporter with the North West Evening Mail, has been welcomed to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall by West Lancashire Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger
Following the recent advert containing the letter ‘Enough is Enough’ issued by Dr David Staples in defence of the Craft, Oscar made contact and explained that he wanted to add a local perspective to the story.
The Province of West Lancashire was more than happy to oblige, and so David gave Oscar a guided tour of Barrow Lodge No. 3928. He gave an insight into the signification of some of the fixtures, fittings and symbols including the all-seeing eye.
The paper later published a full, four page feature article about Freemasonry and also took camcorder footage for inclusion. The article and video footage can be viewed here.
As Oscar commented: ‘Although the original aim of my coming here was to learn more about Freemasonry, I have now realised that the lodges and the artefacts they contain, are in fact a significant part of local history.’
No questions were out of bounds as David was interviewed by Oscar. It was also a source of pride to be able to dispel a number of myths including that only men of advanced years were Freemasons, with many younger men now joining the lodges in the Furness and South Lakeland group.
David later remarked: ‘The visit confirms that we are open about who we are and what we do. This will, in time, help dispel the discrimination and prejudice that exists in certain quarters.
'In the 19th and early part of the 20th century, the many local newspapers which were in circulation then carried full details of lodge installations and other important meetings. As we try to emulate those former days, let us hope that the day is not far off when all brethren can mention their membership of the Craft in any company safe from ill-informed criticism.’
The Province of West Lancashire was anxious to ensure that it celebrated the Tercentenary in style and with that in mind, two gala dinners took place within a few weeks of each other
At the main event, held at the Hilton Hotel, Blackpool, over 400 brethren and their partners gathered to attend the Provincial Tercentenary Gala Dinner. The evening began with the entrance of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and his wife Maureen, who were accompanied by the principal guest, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton. Also joining them was the chairman of the West Lancashire Tercentenary committee, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent and his wife Lynda.
Following the dinner, the entertainment began in dramatic style when a waiter dropped a large tray of cutlery, apparently accidentally on to the dance floor. This got everyone’s attention but rather than a mishap, this was the start of a performance in which several theatrical ‘waiters’ performed a set of popular operatic arias to the delight of the audience.
As the customary toasts were made, Tony Harrison proposed the toast to the ‘Premier Grand Lodge’ on the occasion of its Tercentenary and then, following a brief synopsis of Sir David’s professional and Masonic career, offered a toast to the Assistant Grand Master. To further mark Sir David’s visit, Tony presented him with a cheque for £5,000 from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to pass on to the Lifelites charity, of which he is a patron.
He was also presented with a ‘Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland’ and a special bottle of Martell Cognac which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Martell Distillery. Sir David thanked Tony for his kind words and very generous gifts.
The evening’s raffle, which raised £1,920 in favour of the West Lancashire 2021 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival, saw the lucky winners claiming a variety of prizes, including a coach holiday in the UK, flying lessons and a widescreen television.
At another event, held earlier in the north of the Province, over 200 Masons and their partners gathered at the Cumbria Grand Hotel to celebrate what was billed as ‘A Spectacular Banquet and Ball’, organised jointly by the Furness and Lancaster Masonic Groups. Once again, the revellers were joined by Tony and Maureen Harrison at a wonderful event that combined great food, marvellous entertainment and a spectacular firework finale.
Speeches were kept to a minimum with the emphasis firmly on having a relaxed and fun filled evening. The speech and double toast given by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger was so uncharacteristically short that it earned him rapturous applause!
Everyone pronounced both evenings to be a great success and a fitting way to celebrate such a memorable Masonic milestone in true West Lancashire style.
May 2017 saw a tragic violent incident in Manchester that killed 22 and injured a further 250 people. The people in the city pulled together to do all that they could to help, this togetherness launched a number of appeals to provide aid, comfort and support for those affected by the bomb
The Manchester Tattoo Community launched its own appeal called the Manchester Bee Appeal, which centred around tattooer’s doing a stylised bee tattoo for £50 with all the proceeds going to the appeal fund. Many studios across Manchester decided to get involved. The involvement spread to the other big cities in the north west of England, including Liverpool.
Stephen Crane and Alexander Jorge Perez of Wavertree Gateacre Queensway Lodge No. 2294, based in the Province of West Lancashire, are both involved in the tattoo industry and have four tattoo studios and a tattoo equipment supply company, so when one of their tattooer’s approached them and said can they get involved and do their bit, they both jumped at the chance.
Tattoo crews from two of their studios - Alan’s Tattoo based in Moreton on the Wirral and 13 Ink Tattoo based in the centre of Liverpool, donated their time, including the reception staff wives and girlfriends, for free. Steve and Jorge funded all the materials that would be needed to perform the work, so that all proceeds could be donated.
The appeal was advertised through social media and the teams spent two days doing all the work. The general public were fantastic and eager to donate a patch of skin and £50 towards the appeal which raised a massive £5,480.
The cheque for £5,480 was handed over to Peter Hegarty, who travelled over from the Province of East Lancashire to attend the installation meeting of Wavertree Gateacre Queensway Lodge which meets in Hope Street, Liverpool.
Peter received the cheque in his capacity as Salford District Chairman. He commented: 'I give a big thank you to all those involved - a real team effort for a worthy cause.'
The following day Peter passed the cheque to the East Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, who are assisting with the coordination of donations as Manchester is in its geographical area.
To celebrate 300 years since the formation of the first Grand Lodge in June 1717, the Widnes Group of Lodges and Chapters held a church service in the magnificent St Luke’s Church – a Grade II listed building which dates back to the 12th century
As this was a special occasion, the Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison had granted a dispensation to allow the wearing of regalia, which added a lot of colour to the occasion. Tony also supported the occasion by attending with his wife Maureen, along with Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton and his wife Sue, Widnes Group Chairman Neil Pedder and his wife Liz, Widnes Group Vice Chairman John Gibbon and his wife Yvonne along with other officials and committee members of the Widnes Group.
Wider support for the occasion was given by neighbouring groups including Warrington Group Chairman Andy Barton, Woolton Group Chairman Andy Whittle and St Helens Group Vice Chairman Graham Williams along with members of their groups.
The service was conducted throughout by the Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst and commenced with the Provincial Grand Master processing into the church accompanied by the Provincial Team. This was followed by a very warm welcoming address to all attendees by Kevin Poynton who then mentioned that as part of the Halton Heritage Week at Widnes Masonic Hall and to continue the Tercentenary celebrations, the Hall will open to the public for viewing, with pop-up exhibitions, guided tours around the lodge rooms and explanations as to what Freemasonry is about.
Following Kevin’s address, the congregation then sang the first hymn of the service, ‘Praise, my soul, the King of heaven’. All the music throughout the service was provided by the Provincial Grand Organist Stephen Derringer, who in the words of Yvonne Horabin the church treasurer: 'brought our magnificent newly restored organ to life'.
There was then a Bidding Prayer from Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst which was followed by Tony Harrison giving a brief view of Freemasonry in the community.
Tony added that in 2015, the four main London charities donated £14,249,547 to charitable causes and their own West Lancashire Freemasons’ charity donates monies in the region of £500,000 per annum to deserving cases and causes throughout their Province. In conclusion Tony said: 'Brethren, as we celebrate the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge, there is a temptation merely to look back upon our history; however, this 300th anniversary, coinciding as it does with the start of our own 2021 Festival, affords us a glorious opportunity not only to show the world what we stand for and believe in, but also to look to the future, to continue the tradition of caring for those in need and to face the challenges of the future with that vigour, enthusiasm and commitment, which have ever been the defining characteristics of our Order.'
The offertory collection raised the grand sum of £367.57, with all proceeds going to St Luke’s Church. Prayers of thanksgiving were then given by Neil Pedder and then Rev Godfrey Hirst led the congregation in saying the Lord’s Prayer and a commitment to future endeavour.
The final hymn of the service was then sung, ‘I vow to thee. My country, all earthly things above’. After the Blessing by Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst, the National Anthem was sung and then Tony Harrison and the Provincial Team processed out.
The lodges of the Furness and South Lakeland area in West Lancashire have come together to organise a fundraising boxing and dinner evening for the past 31 years
Held each January at the Cumbria Grand Hotel, Grange-over-Sands, with the support of Kendal Amateur Boxing Club, the event is always a sellout. This year, £9,500 was raised, bringing the total over the event’s lifetime to more than £190,000.
With the money distributed equally between masonic and local, non-masonic charities, the emphasis is on helping less well-known good causes that are often overlooked.
At a presentation evening at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall, attended by Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, £4,800 was presented to 11 recipients representing local, non-masonic charitable organisations.
When Ian Parkinson became Master of Pilling Lodge, No. 7879, at Preston in West Lancashire, he wanted to help Blackpool-based charity Donna’s Dream House
The charitable trust provides free holiday experiences for children and teenagers with life-threatening illnesses, and for recently bereaved siblings and their families.
At the opening of refurbished accommodation at Donna’s Dream House, Ian presented charity founder Len Curtis MBE with a cheque for £36,755. In addition, Ian presented Len with the keys to an eight-seater minibus, to be loaned to the charity – fuelled, insured and serviced – for an initial period of 12 months.
Three members of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons embarked on a three-day bike ride from Wellington Park, Leyland Masonic Hall, Lancashire, all the way down to Freemasons Hall in London; covering a distance of approximately 240 miles and raising over £2,200 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation in the process
The three brethren who undertook this challenge were also members of the group’s light blue club, the Leyland Lights. The ambitious endeavour was part of the West Lancashire Province 2021 Festival which is raising funds for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
The idea came to the fore during a Leyland Lights committee meeting when Freemason Craig Statters wanted to do something to help celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary. Craig was fairly new to Freemasonry having only joined two years previous, but quickly set about thinking how he could be part of the Tercentenary celebrations. He had undertaken cycle rides for charity in the past and so his idea was to cycle to Freemasons' Hall.
Craig presented his idea to the Leyland Lights committee where he instantly achieved their full support and so he set about recruiting additional cyclists together with a mobile support team to travel down to London with them. Craig was joined by Chris Hughes and Phil Kavanagh in the making up of the cycling team with the mobile support team of Jeff Lucas and John Anderson, the group’s charity and assistant charity stewards respectively. The team would travel the distance in three days, cycling approximately 80 miles each day.
Like all well planned journeys, overnight breaks with bed and board were required. This was ably organised by Neil Ward, the Leyland Lights founding president, after Craig had planned the route South. Neil arranged stop-offs at Stone in Staffordshire and Daventry in Northamptonshire by contacting the nearest Masonic Halls, who showed their benevolence by joining in with the spirit of the event and by providing shelter for the bikes and equipment, as well as laying on rooms for the cyclists.
The first day of the cycle was to take them through Wilmslow in Cheshire, with the support team joining them at the 40 mile mark for refreshments. Needing just another 34 miles to complete their day one destination of Stone and with the team having rested up for a short while to take on nutrition, they headed off on the road once more. The team arrived at Stone Masonic Hall late afternoon where they were met by a number of local Freemasons including John Lockley, Provincial Grand Master for Staffordshire.
For the second day, the trio were joined by Robert Curtis from St Michael’s Lodge No. 2487 who cycled 15 miles to keep them company. The team made hard work of the second day though, with a puncture to Chris’s bicycle and Phil picking up a knee injury along the way, but still made it to Daventry in good time.
Day three saw the team leave Daventry and ride on to Leighton Buzzard for lunch to make ready for the final push of 44 miles to their destination. Good time was made on the final day and no doubt extra effort was not found wanting with the goal in sight and when they finally arrived at Freemasons' Hall, they were met by a number of brethren from Leyland, UGLE and the MCF.
To meet the intrepid trio at UGLE were Chris Blackwell, Leyland Group Chairman, Neil Ward, President of the Leyland Lights, and Wayne Haslam, Leyland Lights Secretary, Willie Shackell, UGLE's Grand Secretary, David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF, and Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the MCF.
After their sterling efforts helped to raise over £2,200 for the MCF, the return journey was made easier as they had each booked seats on a train back home to Leyland, Lancashire!
The beneficiary of this years sponsored ‘Cross Bay Walk’ was, not surprisingly, the West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival
What was surprising though, was that the event was blessed with one of those very rare gifts that is sometimes granted by the fickle British climate, a hot summers day! West Lancashire Freemasons, partners, family members, friends and an assortment of four legged, tail wagging companions assembled on the promenade at Arnside in preparation for the ‘crossing of the sands’.
The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was there to ‘wave the walkers off on their way’, being unable to join them himself due to another charity event commitment later in the day. However, the group were not destined to be without top level Masonic leadership, as the PrGM for the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland Norman Thompson was accompanying the group, along with many brethren from his own area. Providing the essential guidance on this perilous trek was the man who undoubtedly understands the quixotic nature of the sands of Morecambe Bay better than anyone - Cedric Robinson MBE is the official ‘Queen’s Guide to the Sands’, a post which he has held since 1963.
He is the 25th guide, the first was appointed in 1548 and the guide is paid a nominal salary but the holder of the post also has the use of the 700-year-old Guide’s Cottage at Kents Bank, which is owned by the Crown and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster. In the period between late spring and early autumn, many groups, sometimes up to 500 in number are guided at weekends by Cedric and his assistants across this ancient thoroughfare which was used in medieval times by the monks of Furness Abbey.
Almost all the groups undertaking these ‘passages’ are motivated by raising sponsorship for their efforts to benefit charitable causes. It was in the company of walkers supporting other diverse charities that the Masonic contingent left the promenade at Arnside to complete the initial stage of their journey along the coastal footpath to a point just past New Barns Bay where they were met by Cedric and his team.
From this point, many experienced ‘sand grown un’s’ will tell you that the objective, Kents Bank railway station on the far shore, looks deceptively close. However, wiser council will relate that you now have a steady two to three-hour trudge to endure as you ‘zigzag’ your way across the literally shifting sands and wade sometimes in waist high water through the estuary of the River Kent.
The vagaries of the quicksand pools, migrating channels and rapid and variable tide courses in Morecambe Bay are the very dangerous elements that make the guidance and knowledge of Cedric and his team such an essential ingredient for any group or individual venturing into this environment. Having safely navigated this challenging ‘marine Sahara’ of the Lancashire – Cumbria border under the relentless glare of the burning noonday sun, it was with a mixture of relief and sense of achievement that the walkers crossed the last few yards over the muddy saltmarshes at Kents Bank before they were able to seek rest and refreshment at the Abbot Hall Hotel.
It was here, in the shade and tranquillity of the hotel grounds that the weary but elated pilgrims were enabled to reflect on a memorable and safe passage of the sands and compare blisters. Phil Preston, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of West Lancashire, paid tribute to all who had taken part in the fund-raising endeavour and expressed particular thanks to John Wrennall who had organised and coordinated the event. The total raised will be announced a little later, once all the sponsorship money has been collected.