Brethren and their families from across the Wigan and District Group, and even from further afield, filled St Matthew’s Church, Highfield to participate in the annual church service and take part in this traditional worship and re-dedication.
The Wigan Group Chairman Geoffrey Porter was again proud to receive the Mayor of Wigan, Councillor Steven Dawber, together with his young consort, Henri, the son of his counterpart in the town of Angers in France, as honoured guests.
Wigan is, of course, twinned with Angers, and Henri was here on an exchange visit. Wigan’s first citizen has for many years been pleased to accept the group’s invitation to attend the service, and has been the honoured guest for more than a decade. The group is understandably very proud of the close relations it has with the Wigan Borough and its dignitaries.
Geoffrey was really pleased to see the service supported by so many brethren and their wives and families and was delighted that the support included non-other than Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden. They were joined by a host of high ranking grand and Provincial grand officers, past and present, from both the Craft and the Royal Arch, as well as representatives from a number of other Masonic Orders.
The service commenced with a procession led by John Lomax, acting as director of ceremonies for the event. Bert Stockley led the service and readings were given by David Ogden and Geoffrey Porter. A fine address was delivered by the Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain John Hall, who reflected on his own experiences in Fleetwood and how his own Freemasonry and Christianity were closely entwined.
A collection was held and the congregation donated generously towards church funds. Before the final hymn and procession, and on behalf of the group, Geoffrey Porter introduced Wigan Group Charity Steward Ian Green who presented the Mayor with a cheque for £300 towards the Mayor’s charities, which this year include the Willows Project and the Wigan Youth Zone
After the Service the brethren retired in procession. It was then off to the Parish Hall, were they enjoyed convivial conversation and light refreshments, before the majority of attendees, including the APrGM and Mayor and his young escort, made their way to Bryn Masonic Hall for a more formal meal.
The dinner at Bryn was a great continuance to the proceedings, with a packed dining hall and wonderful menu choice prepared and served with precision.
Formal toasts were few and brief. David Ogden, in his response, thanked everyone for supporting the service, and specifically the Mayor and chaplain who had given of their time, and Christine and Phil Hughes for the quality of their meal and service.
Geoffrey Porter, John Selley and Chris Reeman, who work constantly on behalf of the group, can reflect on another very successful event orchestrated by them and the rest of the team.