Over 90 brethren, family, friends and guests attended Elm Bank Masonic Hall for the annual Chairman’s Charity Ball. The main celebrants for the evening were the retiring Eccles Group Chairman Dave Walmsley and his lovely wife Sandra.
On arrival, guests were greeted with canapes and a glass of bubbly and there was a hub of excitement in anticipation of what promised to be great night.
Following the reception in the bar, the director of ceremonies Bill Walker requested that all make their way to the ballroom for the meal. Once seated Dave Walmsley welcomed everyone and wished them an enjoyable evening.
Dave also paid tribute to the many involved in the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena where so many people had lost their lives or had been seriously injured. He praised the emergency services for their swift action and also the many bystanders who also contributed to aid those in need at such an awful atrocity. Dave asked that all stand for a minutes silence and give their thoughts to all those had been affected.
Grace was given by Craig Russel and then all sat down to a wonderful feast of ‘Maggie Mays’ traditional Tuscany soup followed by chicken cacciatore, ‘Hot Legs’, served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and potatoes. The dessert was ‘You’re in my Heart’ cheesecake followed by a cheeseboard and cream crackers, fruit platter. The theme of the meal was in anticipation of the artist for the evening’s entertainment, ‘Rock Stewart’.
During the meal, guests were entertained by a magician going by the name of ‘Budgie’ who mesmerised all with his card tricks and humour. Following the meal, Grace was returned by Craig and the National Anthem was sung with great gusto.
The retiring group chairman Dave Walmsley, who has since been promoted to APrGM for the Eccles and South Eastern Groups, rose to thank the retiring APrGM John Hutton, for his tireless work during his term of office and wished him and his wife Anthea, a happy retirement.
He also congratulated his group officers on their group promotions, group chairman Stuart Boyd, group vice chairman Patrick Walsh and group secretary Jonathan Platt.
Dave announced that this was a special occasion to mark 300 years of Freemasonry and that all of the proceeds raised were to be donated the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) 2021 Festival. He said that Freemasonry gives generously and is regularly one of the first to respond to many disasters but not always acknowledged, adding that following the dreadful news of the terrorist attack in Manchester, Freemasons have already donated £20,000.
Dave went on to thank Liam Linacre and his wife Maylin for their hard work in organising the event and presented Maylin with a bouquet. He also thanked the Regional and Group Publicity Officer Tom Fredrickson for his support and work on the publicity. Also, thanks were given to Nadeem and his catering staff and to Mark and the bar staff for all their hard work on the evening.
He thanked all the brethren and companions for their support during the time he had served the group as the chairman and wished Stuart Boyd all the best as his successor. Dave then said that he hoped that everyone has an enjoyable evening before handing over to the director of ceremonies Bill Walker.
A raffle and a Dutch auction were performed to raise money for charity. The evening entertainment was in the form of a Rod Stewart tribute act ‘Rock Stewart’. Not only was ‘Rock’ a lookalike but was vocally as good as Rod Stewart himself as well as an accomplished instrumentalist playing guitar, flute and harmonica(not all at once I might add).
Rock’s entertainment was much appreciated by the audience who were up dancing and completed a very happy and eventful evening to mark 300 years of Freemasonry. Whilst the final sum has yet to be finalised it is anticipated that in excess of £1,000 was raised on the evening.
Finally, at the conclusion of an excellent evening, Dave thanked everyone for their support and wished them a safe journey home.
Article and photographs by Tom Fredrickson.