That was the consensus of the 240 brethren and partners who attended the Wigan Group Tercentenary weekend celebration in Caernarvon, including the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison with his wife Maureen, and Assistant Tony Bent and wife Linda. They would have struggled not to be impressed by the quality, organisation, variety and enjoyment on offer, everything coming together and running like a well-oiled machine.
The weekend started on Friday morning when event organiser, group vice-chairman David Ogden, marshalled four of his coaches to pick up the guests at the three Masonic halls in the group at Bryn, Hindley and Pemberton. Then it was off to Llandudno for a few hours to take in the sights of that quaint seaside town, have some lunch and refreshment, and on to home for the next few nights, the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarvon. The hotel had been taken over for the weekend, and a huge craft blue banner over the reception, emblazoned in gold with the words Tercentenary 1717 – 2017, welcomed the guests and left them in no doubt why they were there, setting the tone for the proceedings. The professional looking banner had been painstakingly crafted by David Ogden’s wife Joan, who was on hand helping everything to run smoothly.
First night was an excellent dinner, arranged in tables of ten, and everyone had the chance to socialise before entertainment by ‘New Adventure’, which had feet tapping, people singing, and a crowded dance floor. The buzz of enjoyment was audible and the atmosphere electric, as the guests drank, danced and chatted until well after midnight.
The following morning was a hearty breakfast followed by an organised coach trip to nearby Llanberis, and a ride on the famous lake railway, taking in views of Snowdonia and the countryside, then back to the hotel for a bit of rest to prepare for the gala dinner in the evening. It was also a chance for some to explore the town, on the hotel’s doorstep, and sample some of the fine ales and food the local hostelries had to offer.
It was a formal black tie affair and the evening started with a drinks reception in the lobby and bar of the hotel, before everyone was ushered into the dining room and entertained by the wonderful Greenall’s Brass Band. John Selley, group secretary, then announced the entrance of the honoured guests, and Tony Harrison and Maureen, Tony Bent and Linda, and David Ogden and Joan, were welcomed with rapturous applause. A wonderful meal followed, with the band playing in the background, or at least, that was the plan. So taken were the revellers by the tunes coming from the band, that the background music turned into an out and out sing along, reminiscence of the last night at the Proms. Following the meal, the Greenall’s Band received a standing ovation when they were eventually allowed to leave following cries of “Encore”. The formality of the occasion was recognised by carefully selected toasts, culminating in a toast to Masonic forbearers over the last 300 years, and the Tercentenary, to which the principle guest Tony Harrison, made a short, but humorous response.
After a short break, the entertainment continued with ‘Swede Dreams’, an Abba tribute band, who kept the dance floor full and the whole room buzzing until midnight. Then, for those who didn’t want the night to end, it was off to the bar. Amazingly, everyone enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and the coaches left on schedule, leaving no-one behind, to return safely to their native Masonic hall.
The positive comments, the accolades to the organisers, hotel, catering and entertainment, left no doubt that this was a very successful and thoroughly enjoyable event that did justice to the landmark it was celebrating.