There was a mountain of stupendous prizes to be won (some 90 in total) and oodles of feverish expectation amongst the brethren as they eagerly awaited the draw for the Christmas raffle at the Masonic Hall, Blackpool. Would it be a brother who had invested a small fortune in purchasing raffle tickets who would win the major prize or would it be Tom Inman with his solitary ticket? Palms were moist; beads of perspiration oozed from furrowed brows and bottom lips were being gnawed on in nervous anticipation.
Whoever the recipients were to be, the most important outcome was that the raffle had been a major triumph for the Masonic Club with over £1,800 raised for the Masonic Building Fund, a record amount for any Club raffle. President of the Club Colin Goodwin and his vice president Jack Monks were delighted and the club’s treasurer John Morris was also gleefully rubbing his hands together.
The night of the draw had finally arrived and Masons had gathered in their droves in the recently refurbished lounge bar. Supporting the Club Committee and adding dignity and decorum to the proceedings were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox and his wife Carol. Blackpool Group vice chairman David Cooke was also present, presumably to ensure fair play, whilst hoping that his tickets would prove fruitful.
A gentle calmness steadily descended over the auditorium; the lights faded and silence pervaded. A sensuous wave of hope rippled through the gathered minions and the first ticket was drawn by Carol Cox, under the watchful eyes of Colin Goodwin and Jack Monks. Squeals of delight erupted from the lucky punter and, with each ticket drawn, the excitement intensified. Bottles of booze, boxes of chocolates, food hampers, electrical gadgets and cuddly toys were all being won but the principal prize, a luxurious television set, had not as yet been claimed. At about the half way stage, however, the winning ticket emerged. Who was to be the winner? – None other than the Chairman of the Blackpool Group of Lodges and Chapters John Turpin. Jocular cries of “Robbery!” erupted from the crowd. “Turpin by name and Turpin by nature”; “Fix” and “Draw it again” were amongst other phrases expressed – but all in good humour. Although John was unable to be present at the draw, there is little doubt that he would receive it with humility and gratitude.
Although the major prize had been won there were still dozens of superb prizes for the taking and, with each ticket drawn, another pundit enthusiastically claimed his reward. The evening had been a success; the raffle had been a success and the Club had added a magnificent sum to its funding. Turpin may have taken the major prize but the Masonic Hall Christmas Raffle was no robbery. It had been a winner all the way.