The annual Preston Group family carol service, held at St Saviours in Bamber Bridge, Preston, was again well attended by local Masons and their families. To add to the occasion, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder was in attendance with his wife Sue, accompanied by Mike Threlfall and his wife Janice and the Preston Group Chairman Steve Bolton with his wife Carol. The music was provided by both Margot Berry on the church organ, the ‘Continental Brass Ensemble’ and the Preston Group Masonic Choir, under the leadership of Malcolm Berry, adding to the occasion.
Before the start of the service, the congregation was entertained by Christmas music and carols from the ensemble, ensuring that everyone was relaxed and ready to add their voices to the proceedings.
The carol service commenced with ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, with Mrs Susan Barnes singing the first verse solo. The congregation joined in the following verses, as the choir processed down the church to take their place in the choir stalls.
Brethren and their guests were welcomed by the Reverend Graham Halsall, who later gave a thoughtful and well received Christmas address.
The congregation joined in heartily with the traditional well-known Christmas carols, accompanied by the ensemble, with voices and music resounding through the church. The first two readings were given by Helen Littlehales and Geoff Saul respectively.
The proceedings were further enhanced by the ensemble playing arrangements of a medley of Christmas tunes at various points through the service. The first medley was entitled ‘Christmas Celebration’, the second ‘Halleluiah’, the third ‘Rejoice’ and the fourth ‘Christmas Jazz Suite’.
Following the third reading, given by the Reverend Halsall, Mrs Susan Barnes gave a well-received solo rendition of ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter’.
Before the final carol, in his role as the group chairman, Steve rose to thank everyone for their attendance. He particularly thanked David and Sue Winder and Mike and Janice Threlfall for their support. Thanks were also offered to Malcolm Berry for his organisation of the choir, the readers, all those who had a part to play in the proceedings, Reverend Halsall for his agreement to lead the service and the church wardens for their kind permission for the use of the church. He closed by thanking all the group officers in attendance for all their excellent work and support during the year. Additional thanks went to the Preston Group Publicity Officer Phil Cragg, who was retiring from that office after seven years in the role.
The service concluded with the choir retiring to the rear of the church singing ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.
The Continental Brass Ensemble treated the attendees to a rendition of the ‘Candlelight Carol’, as they retired from the church.
Following the service, refreshments were provided by the Preston Group with the group secretary Peter Ledder and his wife Valerie, valiantly manning the tea and coffee pots and recharging the plates of biscuits.