The Wigan Group is pulling out all the stops in its fundraising activities as the MCF 2021 Festival progresses, with all kinds of activities evidencing the enthusiasm and generosity of its members. All the lodges and chapters in the group are actively involved, with many already having gained patronage.
Whilst this Herculean effort continues, we still need to keep an eye on local issues and the needs of our local communities. To this end, WM of Borough Lodge No 3996 Phil Hughes and his wife Christine have been busy organising two social events to support a local organisation that does sterling work in the community. Christine and Phil’s full-time jobs are running the catering and bar services at Bryn Masonic Hall at Bryn Road, Ashton in Makerfield, a really busy hall that keeps them on their toes. On top of that busy schedule, and with help from their friends, Phil organised a sportsman’s dinner and Christine a fun filled ladies’ day. Both events were a fantastic success, filling the hall and with top quality food and entertainment, not to mention the odd drink or two, providing a lively and fun filled experience for all. In addition, they raised quite a bit of money for a local community project.
The story of the support for this local community project starts with David Brogan, DC of Bryn Lodge No 6553, and his wife Margaret. His daughter, Sarah, has had her difficulties since birth. Being blind, and with other physical difficulties and speech problems, she has needed constant care, support and stimulation. Sarah is well known to regulars at functions and socials at Bryn Masonic Hall, and despite her difficulties is recognised for her knowledge and associated enthusiasm and excitement for all things musical and theatrical. Sarah attends a group in Wigan called ‘More than Words’. In addition to offering activities aimed at supporting independence, More than Words is an organisation that makes the experience of performing arts (and sports) accessible to everyone, young people or adults, with disabilities or communication difficulties.
Using proven techniques, and through the medium of performing arts, they support people with challenges to express themselves, communicate, and to develop confidence and transferable life skills. Part of this process involves the production of theatrical performances, dramas, music videos and similar activities, all are recorded, edited and used as not only entertainment, but also as interactive tools. Some time ago, when they were looking to enhance their facilities to make the experience better, with proper stage curtaining and lights, and a state-of-the-art projector and screen, the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity stepped in with a donation of over £1,200 that funded the purchase of the projector and screen.
Since that initial donation, the project has gone from strength to strength, with increasing demand from the community for places. Activities have also expanded, and they have had such an impact on the confidence of the students that they now appear live, entertaining at local community festivals and fairs. Money though is always a concern for such a project and expansion is the aim and providing more services the desire.
It was a delight therefore for group vice-chairman John Selley and secretary Chris Reeman (formally group charity steward) to accompany Christine Hughes and ladies event helpers Judith Simms and Margaret Brogan to visit Sue Seager (founder and passionate lead of the project) and the students and carers at More than Words in their premises just off Wigan town centre to make a donation. The students always like to put on a bit of a performance for their visitors, and the Bryn contingent arrived just in time as the students were about to start their warm-up routine. Much to the surprise of the students, the visitors all enthusiastically joined in the warm-up. When fully warmed up, and to great applause, made a presentation of £2,880 to the project.
Sue Seager received the donation on behalf of the students. She is not sure how the money will be spent. Such has been the development of the project that she will now put any ideas before the students’ council and parents’ group so that everyone will have a say in how best to direct expenditure.
As Masons we like to enjoy ourselves. We also like to do our little bit for the community we live in. This is just another example of how our own enjoyment can spread joy to others, and those who organise and take part in such events can quite rightly feel pleased at the outcomes. Charity blesses those who give as well as those who receive, and we should remember and continue to embrace the philosophy of ‘More than Words’.