Several hours into the ladies night for the Duke of Connaught Lodge No 2919, Al Horn was sat in very good company and made a commitment he was sure would be forgotten.
Following a few pre-meal drinks, then a fabulous meal at Southport Masonic Hall, then more drinks and toasts, the conversations turned to fitness and training. Some of the younger brethren mentioned the Tough Mudder Challenge which was coming up in the summer. Al stated that he would easily be able to complete it and if they signed up he would also take part and show them how it is done.
However, the reality and gravity of his commitment struck Al the day after. Did Matthew Edwardson and Chris Marshall really persuade him to take part in the North West Tough Mudder 2015? They were only joking surely he thought……wrong! No one will remember he thought……. wrong! Surely they would realise that his clear lack of fitness meant it was just fraternal peer pressure and Merlot talking, wrong again! Surely they would release him from this foolish obligation.
So this is the story of three brethren from Duke of Connaught Lodge, who set off on a rainy Saturday morning in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire facing 11.2 miles of pain and laughs. They were supported by two other members of the ‘Let’s get messy’ team, the wife of Al Horn, (who incidentally hadn’t even agreed to do this at the ladies evening) and a friend of Matthew Edwardson, Robbie McGowan.
With 24 obstacles ahead, having names such as Artic Enema, Shawshank Redemption, Birth Canal, Mud Mile, Electroshock Therapy, Cry Baby, Balls to the Wall and Sewer Rat, the event took them just over four and a half hours to complete with injuries sustained by all involved, including Chris Marshall splitting his head open after only three miles.
Of course, this being a team of Freemasons, charity was always close at hand and the team using social media and peer pressure raised around £1,500 split between two very worthy charities, namely Alder Hey Hospital and Preston Sea Cadet Corps where Al Horn is an instructor for the Royal Marine Cadets and the building is in urgent need or repair.
Al has learned a very valuable lesson namely, be mindful of sitting next to junior brethren at functions, beware of the hospitality at the Duke of Connaught Lodge and most importantly, Freemasonry can get down and dirty to raise money for charity!
At the finish line, congratulations were warmly shared by team members with a well-earned bottle of cider! The words of ‘never again’ were heard from some quarters!
However, two weeks on and they have all registered for Tough Mudder North West 2016. With a special charity in mind and with a guest appearance from a new Duke of Connaught Mudder, the new WM Lee Martin who has agreed to take part with the hope of raising money for the Bloom Appeal, a charity very close to his heart, as his wife has suffered from blood cancer and it is hoped through his leadership of the lodge that more ‘Duke Boys’ will also sign up to help.