The MCF 2021 Festival is at the forefront of the Wigan Group’s fundraising efforts, and any event is sure to stir up interest and attract support. It was no surprise, then, that when the call went out for walkers for the annual Wigan walk, a coachload turned up for this year’s effort.
It has become the tradition for this event to be a canal walk. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of canals in the Wigan area, all within striking distance of the three Masonic halls in the Borough, the group decided to follow up on last year’s special day out and opted for another sponsored walk along the Lancaster Canal.
The group executive, fronted on this occasion by vice chairman John Selley, arranged a nice little stroll along the beautiful scenery the canal has to offer, for just short of 12 miles. Determined to make this an enjoyable day out, the route started and finished at a pub, with a pub in the middle. Chris Reeman group secretary and Ian Green, group charity steward, were on the ball with their organisation, allowing everything to run smoothly.
There was a slight delay to the arrival at the starting point, as the annual Manchester Blackpool Cycle Ride was taking place causing a bit of a traffic holdup, but the walkers were greeted by Malcolm Warren, regional charity steward and MCF fundraising leading light, kindly dispensing MCF tee shirts.
Ian Cuerden, Assistant to Provincial Grand Principals, was there to turn up at various bridges along the route, encouraging walkers along. Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden, being familiar with the area from his hobby, followed the route in his canal boat ‘Slowcoach’, adding support and keeping an eye on health and safety issues. Completing the team, leading from the front with camera in hand, was publicity officer and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Barry Dickinson.
John had set the starting point at the Hand and Dagger Hotel in Salwick. Lodges and chapters from around the group were well represented, and much effort had already been put in with the circulation of sponsor forms and the collection of money, so objective number one to was to do the miles. Objective number two was to have a really good time in the process. Both objectives were achieved, with enthusiasm!
The full walk was 11.75 miles, obviously along nice flat paths, but it was very hot day, with temperatures at 29 degrees at the start point with little or no breeze. A hardcore of walkers did the whole route, but it was designed in such a way that at 6.5 miles was the Owd Nells complex at Bilsborrow. Walkers could do the first part, or the shorter second section to Garstang, with the coach to transfer them from pub to pub to the finish. In fact, a few supporters just used the coach and enjoyed all that the hostelries had to offer, basking in the sunshine of a glorious summer day.
It was at the finishing point at the moorings at Garstang were everyone met up, some five or so hours after the start, in the beer garden of the Old Tithe Barn Hotel on the Lancaster Canal basin overlooking the Wyrebank Masonic Hall. The atmosphere was electric, and a few drinks and good food kept everyone chatting and joking, swapping tales, and enjoying a right good time.
No-one wanted the day to end, but eventually everyone was shepherded onto the coach. On the coach on the way back, John Selley took the microphone and was keen to congratulate everyone who had taken part and share his delight of being part of it. A conservative estimate of in excess of £2,500 was raised, but with more forms and money to be collected, this is likely to be well exceeded.
Another big win for the Wigan Group, who like to enjoy themselves and show that there is plenty of fun in fundraising.