One of the best things about the annual boxing tournament organised by the Furness and South Lakeland Group is that you actually get to find out exactly what some of the money raised is used for. The sell-out event, with 250 guests in attendance, was held in January at the Cumbria Grand Hotel, Grange over Sands. It was the 31st time it had taken place and the £9,500 raised this year took the accumulated total to over £190,000.
Following on from the event, a presentation evening was held at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall where representatives of local good causes were on hand to receive donations ranging from £150 to £600. As well as the members of the boxing committee, many other Masons and their partners gave their support to the evening.
The presentations got underway with donations totalling £2,800 being made to the various Masonic meeting places in the group. In addition, the chairman of the West Lancashire Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival Phil Preston presented the Provincial Grand Master and Festival President Tony Harrison with a cheque for £2,100. A portion of this will be credited to each lodge in the group to go towards their patronage of the festival.
There were 13 non-Masonic recipients of cheques which totalled £4,800 with those receiving them being given an opportunity to say a few words about their organisation and elucidate on what the money will be used for.
Aidrane Treharne was presented with a cheque by Simon Blundell in favour of Ostley House Care Home. This is a specialist facility for persons with a sensory impairment and in particular those with sight loss. Aidrane explained that the money will go towards helping to equip the ‘dementia village’ which they are in the process of building.
Group charity steward Richard Wilcock made a presentation to Valerie Isherwood from the Tigerlily Trust. This is a voluntary organisation which gives help and support to families with still born children. Rather movingly Val stated that she had lost her daughter Lily in 2011 and found that there was nowhere to turn to for support. This had inspired her to set up the Tigerlily Trust so that no other people would find themselves in a similar position.
The Cumbria Outreach branch of Rainbow House was represented by Janice Fong and her daughter Mia; the aim of the group being to provide rehabilitation, education and fun for children suffering from cerebral palsy. Barrie Bray presented Janice with a cheque to help them in their endeavours.
Former Barrow-in-Furness Borough Mayor Dave Roberts received a donation in aid of 128 Squadron Barrow Air Cadets. He explained how he had visited a meeting of the air cadets during his time as Mayor and on the evening of his visit, the then chairman announced his resignation as he was moving out of the area. Appreciating what good work the squadron undertook with local teenagers Dave put himself forward as a replacement and has been chairman ever since.
Ulverston Town Band gives enjoyment to many, particularly around the Christmas period when they add a little colour to the festivities. They also perform in such places as Grange-over-Sands band stand. The money they received will go towards the cost of purchasing some badly needed new uniforms.
Phil Preston was again called into action to present a cheque to Paula Richardson who received it on behalf of the maternity unit at the local hospital. Paula explained that there is a new maternity unit being built at the hospital which when completed will be one of the best in the country. The large amount being spent on it will not cater for everything however and the aim is to raise £250,000 to improve comfort, provide extras and help equip partner’s rooms and other facilities. On the same day 300 people had joined in a cross Morecambe Bay Walk whilst an additional 50 had taken part in the annual Keswick to Barrow Walk to raise funds for the project.
Dalton-in-Furness Lodge No 6828 member Paul Rose MBE once again put on a display of owls from the sanctuary he runs and was presented with a cheque by former group chairman Alan Jones. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to hold one of the owls, with Eurasian eagle owl Oscar being a particular favourite.
The other beneficiaries were BAE Paramedics, West Mount Tennis and Bowling Club and MIND in Furness. The paramedics are a self-funding group who provide a first aid presence at the boxing tournament as well as many other events in the Furness area. The West Mount club is a venue for tennis and crown green bowling and is an oasis of calm and green space in the midst of a built up residential area. MIND is a local charity providing support for those suffering from metal anguish.
As always, the vital part played in the organisation of the boxing evening by Kendal Boxing Club was recognised. Club chairman Alan Willoughby, who arranges most of the bouts, was unable to be present but had sent a message thanking the committee for the donation and stating how proud he was to be involved in such a wonderful fund raising event.
Donations were also made to Barrow Amateur Boxing Club and Furness Catholic Amateur Boxing Club who always have representatives on the boxing card. Barrow A B C head coach Jeff Moses was present with some of his charges and in the limited room available they gave a display of some of the drills they go through and Jeff explained what good habits pugilism can instil in youngsters. Super heavyweight Jim Braithwaite put on the gloves and delivered some tremendous punches onto pads being held by Jeff. The noise made by the impact of his blows caused quite a stir and it is quite understandable how he has won his last two bouts on knockouts.
Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield had begun proceedings in welcoming everybody to the presentation. He also closed proceeding when he took the opportunity to pay thanks to boxing chairman Gary Rogerson and all the members of the committee for the work they had put in to ensure the event went from strength to strength. In particular, he paid tribute to the many years of service given by vice chairman Tony Cassells who had recently announced he was relinquishing the post. This was greeted with loud and sustained acclamation.
Following the formalities everyone got to know each other a little better over a glass of wine and a buffet supper.
The aim of the boxing evening is to raise funds which are split equally between Masonic and non-Masonic causes. It has always been the intention that the non-Masonic donations be made to local charities which may not have the profile of some of the bigger ones. Listening to the recipients on the evening one cannot but applaud the decision to award the donations in that way.
As one of the recipients remarked on receiving their cheque: “Thank you. It is good to be in such nice surroundings receiving a cheque for just turning up. It would have taken a lot of bag packing at Tesco to raise that amount of money and we are very grateful to the Masons.”
The evening being over, hard-working secretary Kieron Mullan can now concentrate on finalising arrangements for the 32nd boxing with dinner evening in January 2018.