In 2023, the community engagement team of St Catherine’s Hospice in Preston extended their night walk to include both a six- and eight-mile route with the potential of danger increased for the charity walkers taking part.
More support was therefore required to marshal the event, and once again the Freemasons from the Chorley and Leyland Group rose to the challenge and this time, they were aided by the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association, North West Chapter. Have you anything to give in the cause of charity? Yes, time.
After the success of last year’s night walk which involved 370 walkers, over 900 people turned out to this event to raise money for the hospice, meaning that our brethren had their work cut out for them to maintain safety and give the walkers encouragement on their arduous journey.
The walk was once again this year co-ordinated by the Chorley and Leyland Group Charity Steward and Widows Sons member Garry Hacking, who after careful planning had mostly everyone meeting at St Catherine’s for a briefing, allocate marshals for the check points and iron out issues from last minute dropouts, which saw Maurice Sewter and Scott Burns covering the bottom of Todd Lane South as a last-minute extra point.
The walk got underway after a half hour delay due to last minute route complications, the first point soon found the 900 walkers creating a bottle neck onto Watkin Lane, so the powerful and assertive voices of Clive Hardisty, Jon Anderson, Mark Hillyard and Garry Hacking, (all Widows Sons), maintained the safety of the walkers over a treacherous point.
The caravan of people soon found their way to Angeline Sudworth and Graham Runacus at The Wishing Well pub, but regrettably, the walkers were on both sides of the road. Angeline and Graham then very effectively co-ordinated everyone back to the correct side.
At the official second point, Michael Kipping (Chorley and Leyland Group Deputy Charity Steward) and his lovely wife Janet ensured the walkers stayed on the left side of the road towards New Lane. They met some interesting walkers who were on their way to point three.
At point three, Allan Cartwright (Peace Lodge No 2269) and Carl Farber (St George’s Lodge of Chorley No 7161 and Widows Sons) directed the walkers down New Lane towards Neil Ward and Rick Lockwood (Eccleston Lodge No 7754). They encouraged the walkers to avoid the pubs on Cop Lane. In a shocking and totally unexpected turn of events, some didn’t listen!
At the next point, where the route split for the six- and eight-mile paths, Scott Burns and Maurice Sewter (Widows Sons) had the task of ensuring the walkers followed the correct paths and once again were joined by the St Catherine’s bear.
The walkers on the 8-mile route headed toward Mark Hillyard on his second point of the evening on Liverpool Road and directed them right toward the furthest marshalling group consisting of Nigel Monks (WM of Longton Lodge No 6237) and John Anderson (Eccleston Lodge) and Garry Hacking (Greenhill Lodge No 6260).
The walkers headed off to the next point manned by Phil Kavanagh (Carnarvon Lodge No 2376) and Carl Farber at his second point to direct the walkers back towards the route home where they would meet Jon Anderson and Clive Hardisty of Widows Sons on their second point who directed the walkers on the route home.
The walkers crossed paths with the same marshals on their way back to the hospice and the walk finished with the back markers reaching St Catherine’s at 23:40 where the St Catherine’s staff thanked all the marshals with a payment of a bacon butty.
Garry Hacking has thanked everyone of the members of the Chorley and Leyland Group for the support with the marshalling and who have given their time to support a wonderful cause. The Widows Sons should also be commended, as most of them do not live locally and have no attachment to St Catherine’s, but heard the call and came to support regardless.
It’s often easy to put a few pounds in an envelope and much harder to get involved in supporting our communities with our busy life commitments and a well-earned summer recess. By giving back to our communities we demonstrate our value in a modern world, and it is the most important thing we can do as Freemasons.