Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was the distinguished guest at Southport’s Masters and First Principals Festival held at Southport Masonic Hall. Tony was supported by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Paul Renton and Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor plus many other grand and provincial grand officers.
The evening began with light refreshments in the Hannay dining room where the current masters and first principals were introduced to Tony and given the opportunity to have an informal chat over tea and biscuits.
The guests were then invited up to the Scarborough Temple for a question and answer session, the first question being asked by Colin Jenkins Southport Group Chairman. A wide selection of topics were put to the distinguished panel and covered a variety of items such as how to encourage new members and what the Province could do to help. Other topics included financial queries, mentoring and individual brethren’s concerns. Discussion followed many of the topics which were both serious and humorous. The Provincial team clarified and provided answers based on their many years of experience, much to the appreciation of the gathering.
Following this session the masters and first principals met other brethren in the bar area for pre-dinner drinks, whilst the festive board was being prepared. Once the brethren had taken their seats the distinguished guests were welcomed into the Scarborough dining room under the watchful eyes of Keith Kemp and Malcolm Bell. During the banquet Colin once again welcomed Tony, Philip, Paul and Peter by taking wine with them to great applause. Tony responded by taking wine with all of the brethren present.
As part of the festival, Southport likes to highlight the charitable nature of Freemasonry in the Southport area and on this occasion Colin was presented with cheques to the value of £19,100 which included cheques from the Southport Group totalling £2,950. These donations were: £1,250 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £1,000 to the Masonic Hall Foundation, £450 to the SSAFA and £250 to Claire House.
Donations were then received from Southport’s MAGIC group totalling £1,800 and included £500 to Queenscourt Hospice, £500 to the Southport Offshore Lifeboat, £300 to the Masonic Hall Foundation, £250 to the SSAFA and £250 to North Meols Carriage Works.
Alan Sainter’s Regalia Agency presented a fantastic amount totalling £12,000 with £4,000 to the Masonic Hall Foundation, £3,000 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £1,000 to Friends of Tithebarn, £1,000 to Queenscourt Hospice, £1,000 to Friends Royal Hospital, £1,000 to North West Air Ambulance and £1,000 to the RMBI 2015 Festival.
In addition Peter Martin from Bury Road Garage donated £300 to the Masonic Hall Foundation, Southport’s friends of Tithebarn donated £2,000 to The Tithebarn Residential Home and the Southport Computer Society donated £50 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ charity.
Astounded by the groups generosity, Tony thanked everyone concerned and added that on behalf of all of the charities he would like to personally offer his thanks and he was sure that these donations would make a big difference and be put to good use; commenting it was pleasing to see so many donations going to non-Masonic charities in the local area.
The formal toasts for the evening were then completed and during the toast to the Provincial Grand Master, Colin Jenkins presented Tony with a bouquet of flowers for his wife to thank her for letting him spend the evening in Southport. Tony also received a pair of the Southport Group cufflinks as a memento of the evening. Tony then admitted he had seen these fantastic cufflinks being worn by a number of other people which he thought was a great idea and was very happy to accept them as a gift from the group and he said they would indeed remind him of the generosity of the brethren in Southport.