The West Lancashire team eventually triumphed at the recent Jonathan Spence Tercentenary Challenge held at Eriswell Shooting Ground on 16 September. The competition attracted 167 entries to the biggest Masonic shooting event ever held. All the 19 Provinces plus Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London were represented and they had their eye on the Jonathan Spence Trophy for the top Masonic team of three.
This year the event was organised by the National Association of Masonic Clay Shooting Societies to celebrate the tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England. Seven Masons from our Province, one veteran, one lady and one guest, together with four wives, under the captaincy of Richard Dennison, travelled 250 miles to Eriswell in Suffolk to represent the Province of West Lancashire at this prestigious event. As an added bonus we were accompanied by the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor.
All travelled down on Friday, some even got chance to practice. They needed it on the tricky stand 2 which caught out most shooters. With everybody staying at the same hotel it made for an interesting evening, especially when most retired early – to the pub across the road.
With shooting starting at 09:30, most managed to eat a full breakfast before going to the ground – where bacon butties awaited. When shooting started the team split into two groups to shoot the 12 stands set out and occasionally met up waiting on a stand. The shoot was fit for a major competition with all targets hittable – but unfortunately not every time. Stand 2 was the one to sort out the top people from the rest. An evil quartering battue followed by a low black clay made this a tough stand for most people.
Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, was present to join us shooting, but we never saw his score card – perhaps he did not want to embarrass us by winning the gun on offer for the top Masonic shooter.
An excellent buffet was served at 1:30pm during which a presentation was made to the Deputy Grand Master by Brian Saidman Chairman of NMCASS. Unfortunately, Jonathan had to leave for another engagement and the prizes were given out by Paul Reeves, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Essex. During the lunch A raffle was held with tickets being sold by Provincial Stewards from the Province of Suffolk and over £1000 was received to be given to a charity of choice by Jonathan Spence.
The highest Masonic shooter, and winner of the shotgun kindly donated by Entwistle Guns of Preston, was Dan Baker from the Isle of Wight with a fantastic score of 97. Joint second was Dave Smith from West Lancashire and Steve Whitwell from Hertfordshire with 90, however Dave lost out to the infamous ‘count back’ system and Steve took the runner up trophy. A trophy will be presented to him at our next event. Louise Jennings-Hoole shot well to come second in the ladies’ competition to Charlotte Brereton of Suffolk.
Then came the presentation to the winning Masonic team. A small error put Surrey as winners on 253 but the captain of the West Lancashire team knew that West Lancashire had scored 256. Dave Smith had scored 90, Jason Rhodes 88 and Jason Coxhead 79. The captain politely pointed out the error and the Jonathan Spence Challenge Cup came back to West Lancashire.
For the full results and all the scores:- http://wlmcpss.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/All-Results.pdf
Needless to say, the party on Saturday night went on into the small hours with much revelry and dancing. Our thanks must go to NAMCSS, especially Roger Wilkes the secretary for all his hard work, Eriswell Shooting Ground, all their staff and referees who worked so hard to put on a magnificent competition, UGLE for the support and sponsorship and our wives who put up with the excitement without complaint.