In the week that celebrates Scotland’s greatest poet, Robert Burns, one brother from West Lancashire used his skills and talent as a bagpiper to raise money for The Rowan Tree Primary School, a special needs school in Leigh, Manchester with a focus on autism.
Garry Hacking a past master of Greenhill Lodge No 6260, was invited to pipe for two lodges at their Burns Nights, but rather than take a fee for the service he asked that each lodge raised money during their evenings to support the school. Garry is no stranger to the requirements of special needs children, with his own son having severe autism, and from taking his son to the school he is aware of the financial difficulties they’re currently facing with increases to the cost of living.
The school has traditionally used its charitable funds to provide enrichment activities for the children that they may not get in their home lives, such as sensory experiences and life skill learning. As Garry well knows, parents of children with special needs have to deal with additional challenges and routines that restrict what they are able to do outside of school.
At Rowan Tree Primary School, their priority is to put the children at the centre of everything they do, to get to know each personality, and to enable and support each child to learn as much as they can. They treat every child as a unique individual. They aim to ensure that all children have equal access to high quality opportunities within and outside school. The school therefore tries to ensure that children enjoy extra activities, on top of the standard curriculum, so that they learn additional qualities to support their parents.
Garry started by attending Leyland St Andrews Lodge No 7391 in Horwich for their Burns Night and provided entertainment for the evening. This involved acting as the tyler, piping in Allan Archer as master into the lodge, piping the brethren out of the lodge after it closed and then providing the brethren with entrainment whilst waiting for the haggis. A special moment in the evening was when the brethren joined in to provide the drum beat to ‘The Gael’. During the raffle, the 60 attendees raised a whopping £515 for the school which blew Garry away.
The night after Garry attended a lodge he hadn’t been too before, Makerfield Lodge No 2155 at Leigh Masonic Hall. Once again providing the same service of acting tyler, followed by a wide range of music prior to piping the haggis to the festive board.
At the festive board there were only 14 members present, but this didn’t stop the brethren digging deep to provide for this important cause and raised another £300 which considering the turn-out truly demonstrates the generosity of the members of Makerfield Lodge.
In both evenings, the brethren demonstrated their generosity as Freemasons and their commitment to supporting another brother in raising money for the benefit of children with additional needs. The generosity that raised a total of £815 for a cause so close to Gary’s heart made him swell with pride and ever grateful to these two special lodges.