The November meeting in the calendar of Wigan Lodge No 2326 was one with a difference, the festive board after the meeting was held as the retirement dinner for the retired AProvGM for the group, David Ogden.
After the lodge was opened by the WM Gordon Cooke, he offered the gavel to AProvGM Malcolm Bell which was promptly returned. Following the lodge business, a very enlightening paper entitled ‘Properly Prepared’ was presented by the secretary John Pendlebury.
During the first rising, Gordon Cooke thanked David Ogden for all his service as AProvGM, following which David and grand officers, along with the group chairmen, John Selley and Jonathon Heaton all retired.
At the festive board, following the regular wine takings and toasts, John Selley, (Wigan Group Chairman), rose and proposed the toast to David Ogden, during which he remarked upon David’s initiation into Bryn Lodge No 6553 in March 1970 and his subsequent 50th celebration in October 2021. He was very busy during this time, becoming master of Bryn Lodge in 1984.
David’s group career started with his appointment as group secretary in March 2016 by the then group chairman Malcolm Taylor, with John Selley as assistant secretary. In May 2016 he was appointed Vice Chairman of Wigan Group and in May 2018 was appointed as AProvGM for Wigan Group, Leigh Group and the St Helens and Prescot Group.
John continued saying that David had always looked after the groups and membership which were his responsibility and pushed hard in Province for recognition for them. He was a big charity man who generated a lot of donations and will also continue to run the Wigan Group Trip which is a big fund raiser, in addition to the summer sponsored walk, hopefully 2024 walk will be a touch drier than the one in 2023 where it rained from start to finish!
Jonathon Heaton (Leigh Group Chairman), then arose and echoed John’s sentiments. He said that group work never stops and that David was a kindred spirit with whom he visited lodges, including navigating the COVID years together, during which time he came to regard him as a very good friend. He thanked him for his time, effort, kindness and consideration and wished that he would keep up the visiting!
Jonathon presented David with silver cufflinks, wine and chocolates from Leigh, whilst John presented a new Masonic case, brandy and sweets from Wigan.
Needless to say, the response from David was extremely emotional and he highlighted the fact that it was charity that brought him into Freemasonry and subsequently played a very important part in his career. More importantly though, was that the groups had been in the 1981 Festival, the 1997 Festival and all the rest since, with Wigan, Leigh and St Helens always at the top of the fundraising lists when figures were published, which was a credit to everyone working together for the charities.
He went on to admit that he was never a secretary as he couldn’t do the job and only agreed to become Wigan Group Secretary if John Selley agreed to become the assistant secretary. David was very sincere as he said that he was very fortunate to take over as AProvGM from Tony Bent whose help and guidance was amazing, as was the support and mentoring from Stanley Oldfield.
In closing, David thanked all the members of Wigan, Leigh and St Helens and Prescot for their support over his term and also said that as things change in the Province, we are all part of the same team and need to support and move forward together. He expressed that he looks forward to supporting Malcolm Bell, the new AProvGM, has loved every single minute of his time and that all the members made it a special journey for him. After a hearty round of applause, the honours to the response were 5.
The toast to the WM was proposed by Mike Purcell, with Gordon Cooke responding in his own inimitable manner and thanking everyone for coming.
A short and sweet Toast was proposed to the visitors by the junior warden, with Karl Greenall responding and thanking Wigan Loge for hosting such a memorable event which would be remembered for a long time.
The tyler’s toast rounded off a magnificent evening following which the principal guests retired followed by the rest of the attendees.