The number seven has long been considered a lucky number in both Western and Chinese culture. We are also all familiar with the number’s usage in significant groupings, like the Seven Wonders of the World, the seven liberal arts and sciences, the seven ages of man and even the seven deadly sins. A new one for the list is now David Ogden’s seven wonderful winter Masonic holidays.
For the past seven years he has arranged a winter break for the Wigan and surrounding groups, designed to get people together in an informal atmosphere to enjoy each other’s company and in the process, raise a bit of money for various charities. The trips were initially started by David as Regional Charity Steward to raise money for the 2010 Festival and to have an enjoyable break after the usually hectic Christmas period. From that initial idea, over the last six years, the tour has visited Bournemouth, Bideford twice, Street, Torquay and Scotland.
This year 90 people travelled to Eastbourne for a wonderful time by the sea. All the trips have been most enjoyable, but more importantly have raised a substantial amount of money for various charities and Masonic halls. So successful and well supported have these events been, that to date somewhere in the region of £25,000 has been raised.
The format is quite unique. The holiday is run like any other coach holiday, but any Masonic group that book’s 10 passengers is included in the share out of the monies raised. Money is raised by David’s use of his considerable negotiating skills and all kinds of deals and discounts find their way back into the charity pot. No-one knows how he does it, but these figures have been quite significant. In addition, during each stay, there are a couple of raffles, a quick game of bingo, a game of heads and tails, all of which is a bit of fun and raises a great deal of money to add to the pot.
This year, as in the past few years, the beneficiaries have been Bootle, South East, Warrington, and Wigan Groups and the amounts divided proportionally. Warrington, Bootle and South East all received cheques of £666 each. Wigan received three shares due to the number of passengers travelling. Together with money raised from a trip to London in November last year, Wigan Group Chairman, Malcolm Taylor, was delighted to receive a cheque for £2,500. It was double delight for Malcolm, who has supported every trip since the start seven years ago. Malcolm took the opportunity to thank David on behalf of all the groups and everyone who had attended on the fantastic amount of monies raised and also on providing a most enjoyable holiday. All the groups were delighted with the amount of money received.
In addition to this amazing charitable effort, all previous trips have included a sponsored walk, which most people take part in to raise money for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. All participants have sponsorship forms and are asked to send them, with donations, direct to WLFC. So how much additional money has been raised over the years is not known, but is likely to be in the 1,000s of pounds.
Next year’s tour is already arranged for Paignton, to an excellent venue, the Marine Hotel. Such is the popularity of this annual jaunt that some people just can’t wait and have already booked, the first booking being made by the Wigan Group Vice Chairman Geoffrey Porter and his wife Linda, so get your own group organised and get in quick!
The last word goes to trip organiser, David Ogden, who says: “We do raise money, but we have fun doing it. We all enjoy one another’s company, we have made many new and long lasting friendships and we look forward to it continuing. It truly is all part of enjoying Freemasonry.”