Celebrating 300 years

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 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

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