Please, no jokes about Wigan pier and Wigan being a little seaside town in the Lancashire coalfield. This is about a real trip to the seaside. No buckets and spades though, no kiss me quick hats, not even rock and candyfloss. No, it was white shirt, Provincial red tie and best bib and tucker for the annual pilgrimage to Provincial Grand Chapter for that well-established custom of supporting companions who were receiving either first appointment in or promotion to Provincial rank.
This year it was again by the seaside in Southport. The event is always well supported by the Wigan Group, and companions from chapters meeting at Bryn, Hindley and Pemberton Masonic halls, and this year was no exception. Mind you, coaches provided by David Ogden helps, as does a hearty breakfast at 10am at Bryn provided by the ever-helpful Phil and Christine Hughes – what a start to the day.
Corinthian Chapter No 2350 topped the charts, with seven companions being honoured, including Group Charity Steward Chris Reeman who received acting rank as PrAGSoj, and Neil Whittle who received the same but past rank on first appointment. Stan Fairhurst, Norman Kelly, Ray Pye and George Seddon received promotion to PPrGSN and Philip Dobson to PPrDGSwdB.
From other chapters, Roy Belshaw received acting rank as PrGStdB and on first their appointment; Mark Holloway received PPrGSwdB, Paul O’Brien PPrDGSwdB, Derek Atherton PPrAGDC and Dave Shaw PPrAGSE. Keith Lang received promotion to PPrGSE, Harold Norton to PPrGSN and John Murphy to PPrDGSwdB.
Wigan Group’s senior acting officer, Paul Hesketh, was re-appointed as PrGDC, and did everyone proud by overseeing and directing a wonderful Provincial Grand Chapter ceremony, and officiating at the celebratory banquet. His hard work, efficiency and organisational ability in directing proceedings with his commanding tones ensured everything ran smoothly and all had a great time.
At the banquet, the atmosphere was electric, and a great time was had by all. As a bonus, the assembled group companions were able to witness their own Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Ian Cuerden, in his own characteristic manner, propose the toast to the celebrants. It received a rapturous response, especially from the Wigan tables, which, as is often the case, were probably greater in number than the other groups in the Province.
Happy and refreshed, the coach returned to Bryn, where some, not wanting the occasion to end, enjoyed a few more drinks and excellent companionship.