What more could a happy group of Freemasons and their families and friends want on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon in July than taking part in a fund-raising walk by a peaceful canal. Setting of from the Bellflower Pub in Garstang the walkers faced an 8 mile walk alongside the Lancaster canal towards the Plough Inn at Galgate, where they could take refreshment before continuing on to the Watermill Inn in Lancaster, a further 5 miles, or they could join the group chairman Geoffrey Porter and other supporters on the coach for a ride to Lancaster in luxury. The keener walkers even opted for the whole distance non-stop.
David Ogden, as well as providing the coach transportation, was most pleased to be able to join in the day and give comfort and support to the distressed and needy by following the route in his boat. He was called on to come to the rescue of a walker with blistered feet and another suffering a cut hand resulting from attempting to remove discarded fishing line which had become entangled around his foot.
Geoffrey did his best to pass on some sound advice and encouragement to many of the walkers, including to the group secretary Chris Reeman, just before the start. Despite Geoffrey’s concern, Chris insisted on walking the first stretch of some eight miles to be greeted by a happy and fresh group chairman, who had travelled to the Plough Inn at Galgate by coach, the mid-walk rendezvous. Geoffrey was delighted to be joined there by the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and his wife Maureen, who were also keen to greet everyone as they arrived at the mid-point, thanking each one for their involvement and their support for the MCF 2021 Festival. tions of the first eight miles, (“It was far more”, some of the walkers cried), had not improved Chris’s comprehension of Geoffrey’s words of wisdom because he insisted on continuing to walk the further five miles on to Lancaster without a break, joined by some of the keener walkers.Many more took advantage of the break for a bite to eat and a glass (or two) of something refreshing.
As well as group officers, Ian Cuerden, Mike Threlfall and Stanley Oldfield also came along. Stanley Oldfield and his wife Marlene cannily opted for a coach ride to the Plough Inn at Galgate, and from there took a leisurely stroll for the remaining five miles into Lancaster.
A very proud Geoffrey, again having arrived by coach, was delighted to greet the walkers, all safe and well, at journeys end, the Waterwitch Inn in Lancaster. He perceived that some had discovered that 13 miles had seemed a lot further than they remembered but, nevertheless, they were smiling and happy to have taken part. Alf Short, on the other hand, was more than comfortable setting off back to the starting point in Garstang, where he had left his car. It seems 26 miles is but a Sunday afternoon jaunt for him and his lovely dog. In fact, it was the one’s with the shortest legs, the dogs accompanying the walkers, who looked the most lively at the end.
All those taking part may never get to know the people who will receive the benefit from the money raised on a beautiful Sunday afternoon by people enjoying themselves, and neither will the recipients ever know the walkers. On the coach journey home Geoffrey thanked everyone for their presence, their company and their support of the group and the 2021 Festival. He thanked those who had organised the event and David Ogden for his invaluable input and support. It had been most pleasing to meet Maureen and Tony Harrison at Galgate and their support was greatly appreciated by all present. It was pleasing for Geoffrey to see wives, partners and family and friends joining the brethren and enjoying the occasion. A great deal of happiness was shared throughout the day, not only by the walkers but also those who came to support.
Every lodge and chapter in the group has been called to support the walk, and that support has been overwhelming. A conservative estimate from group charity steward Ian Green is that in the region of £3,000 was raised, but with more forms and money to be collected, this is likely to be well exceeded. The Masonic Charitable Foundation provides vital support to Freemasons in need, their families and also the wider community, and the festival is at the forefront of the Wigan group’s fundraising efforts. The community around Garstang, Galgate and Lancaster got a chance to witness Freemasonry in action. Another big win for the Wigan Group, who got another chance to put the fun in fund raising.