The scene was set. The tables adorned with tartan table clothes and Robbie Burns place mats had been named after Scottish Castles; all thanks to Joan Skidmore. The band was all in place to receive the members of Bootle Pilgrim Lodge No 1473 and their guests at Litherland Masonic Hall.
It was an icy evening in January 2023, and when the doors of the hall had been opened, the guests started to arrive. Some had got into the spirit of the Scottish-themed evening in one way or another.
It was then that the master of ceremonies Stephen Oliver called upon the guests to take their seats. In welcoming everybody, the immediate past master Keith Rushton explained that the WM Allan Hore was out still chasing the haggis, but realistically was unable to attend due to a family bereavement. Russell Skidmore then asked the chaplain Stephen Oliver for ‘The Selkirk Grace’ and the starter was served, a delicious cock-a-leekie soup.
There then followed the moment that everybody had been waiting for: Craig Wright piping in the haggis, accompanied by Stephen Oliver to the tune of ‘Scotland the Brave’ to which all stood and applauded. In the centre of the room the haggis was addressed by Stephen who then stabbed the haggis and trenching the gushing entrails. Everybody had been given a wee dram and at the end of the address they all stood and saluted the haggis by gushing down the dram. The haggis was then paraded out to the tune of the ‘Black Bear’.
Haggis, neeps, and tatties were served to those who dared, followed by the desert. It was then that Russell asked the chaplain to return grace.
Another big moment followed. Stephen introduced the ‘Piping Wannabes’ who paraded through the room playing ‘We would walk a 1000 miles’ on their party blowers. Having taken their positions, the ‘Travelling Wannabes’ performed their first set and within minutes the dance floor was full.
At the interval, the immortal memory of Robbie Burns was read by Peter Kelly, the answers to a quiz which had been provided by John Spurr were announced and Keith drew the raffle tickets; a raffle which had raised the magnificent sum of £295 which will be given to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity at the lodge’s installation in March.
The Travelling Wannabes then returned for their second slot after having being fed and watered and the dance floor immediately filled again.
As at any evening, it must come to an end but this was not the usual end to the evening as everybody circled hand-in-hand and the piper Craig played ‘Auld Lang Syne’, while everyone sang along.
The immediate past master Keith Rushton then thanked Joan Skidmore for the hard work she had done in planning and creating the table decorations, Peter for the very informative immortal memory at short notice, John Spurr for providing the quiz and of course, Russell Skidmore and Stephen Oliver for putting the fantastic evening together, finishing off by wishing everybody a safe journey home.