It was a ‘grand day out’ for over 40 Freemasons from the Wigan Group when they attended the finale of the MCF 2021 Festival, celebrated at the Blackpool Winter Gardens, Empress Ballroom. Gathering in the Spanish Suite beforehand, with the men in black tie and the ladies resplendent in their ball gowns, it reminded all there of what they had missed for over 18 months.
The camaraderie and old stories were there for all to see. Acquaintances renewed and new friends made and when all gradually made their way to dinner they could sense an atmosphere that was full of fun and celebration. The beautiful Empress Ballroom bedecked in Union flags became the background for a great Masonic evening which would see the culmination of four years hard work by many in the Province, lead by Festival President Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master.
When principal guest, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton, President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Richard Hone and his wife Diana, the MCF Chief Executive Les Hutchinson and his wife Debbie, Chief Fundraiser for the MCF Paul Crockett and his wife Claire and Trustee of the MCF Howard Wilson and his wife Lynn had taken their places, Festival President and Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and wife Maureen were warmly welcomed by all and they took their seats at the centre of a very long top table.
Greenalls Brass Band provided the entertainment throughout the traditional roast beef dinner and the highly acclaimed ‘Singing Waiters’ provided a second half which saw everybody on their feet, joining the rousing songs provided.
A toast to the Masonic Charitable Foundation was proposed by the Festival Chairman Philip Preston and following this the announcement of the results was given by Les Hutchinson who thanked everyone in the Province for their part in raising the wonderful total of £3,504,423.
Richard Hone responded to the toast to the MCF, thanking everyone involved in the 2021 Festival. In conclusion, he thanked Tony for his hard work as Festival President and presented him with a crystal ship’s decanter.
The toast to the Festival President was proposed by Sir David who thanked Tony Harrison for his hard work and a Results Brochure and an engraved wine glass were then distributed to all the guests as a memento of the evening.
Tony responded to the toast and thanked all who had supported the festival during the four years. He also praised David Ogden, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Wigan Group for the work that he and his team had put in, preparing the Festival Finale Banquet.
Geoffrey Porter, Wigan Group Chairman commented on the great support offered by members of the group at the dinner and he thanked his group officers, Vice Chairman John Selley, Secretary Chris Reeman and Group Charity Steward Ian Green, each of which had brought their own guests to this spectacular evening. Geoffrey was particularly pleased when it was announced that the Wigan Group had made the highest group contribution to the festival with a sum totalling over £100,000.
The evening concluded with the Greenalls Brass Band playing a great Masonic favourite, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, before over 700 Freemasons and their wives left Blackpool on their journey home with one big number in their heads……… £3,504,423.