A host of charity stewards, festival representatives, secretaries and other interested parties of the Blackpool Group, and some from neighbouring groups, gathered at Blackpool Masonic Hall to receive a presentation on the forthcoming Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, who is Vice President of the MCF 2021 Festival, accompanied by members of his team, John Whitehead (assistant secretary for the festival), Regional Charity Steward Ted Rhodes and Blackpool Group Charity Steward Ian Stirling provided details of the format of the festival and were on hand to answer any questions or queries that members of the audience had.
Other notables on hand to lend support and assist wherever possible were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals David Randerson, Blackpool Group Chairman John Turpin, vice chairman David Cook, group secretary Steve Jelly, Chairman of South Fylde Group Ian Ward and North Fylde Group Charity Steward Jim Gregson.
Apart from a well-constructed PowerPoint presentation by Ted Rhodes and additional details and explanations offered by the team, numerous searching questions were answered during a most interesting and informative meeting. What however, was the most prominent message to come from it? No doubt, the answer will be different things to different people but one conspicuous message was ‘Wear your Festival Jewel with pride’.
The specially commissioned Festival Jewel is not only a statement of a Mason’s commitment to the festival; it is a symbol of pride in the Province of West Lancashire. As the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, has stated: “It is a privilege for the Province of West Lancashire to be the first Province to be invited by United Grand Lodge to arrange a festival in support of the newly formed Masonic Charitable Foundation.” And the esteem with which the Province is held can be measured by the fact that it is the first time that any Province has been authorised to use their Provincial coat of arms as the focus of a Festival Jewel.
The purpose of the festival is to raise significant funds for the Masonic Charitable Foundation which brings together the four national charities; the Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Masonic Samaritan Fund and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. The festival will run for four years from May 2017 and during that time, group, lodge and chapter charity stewards will be working to ensure that brethren are given all the information and support needed to maximise our efforts for this worthy endeavour.
In his presentation, Ted Rhodes provided a breakdown of the levels of patronage that brethren can pledge, starting with Steward up to Grand Patron and how each is achieved by the extent of donation received over the four years of the festival. He went on to explain in detail how to complete the various forms needed for the festival by charity stewards, brethren and companions to ensure a clear understanding of its requirements.
Every brother or companion who pledges support to the festival in the form of a one-off payment or by direct debit over the four-year period and reaches the patronage amounts will receive a Festival Jewel. Whatever level of patronage one achieves, wear the Jewel with pride!
To assist the charity and festival stewards in this work, information packs that provide detailed guidance were distributed to members of the audience.
David Winder informed those present that the Province of West Lancashire has a fine heritage of supporting charitable causes, both Masonic and non-Masonic, and those who find themselves in need. He reminded his audience that the Province gave £5,300,000 in 2010 when the last festival was held but that, to date, since then has received back in excess of £6,000,000. Consequently, the Province has been a net receiver. David went on to say that the generosity of the group has always been highly commendable and the brethren and companions can be rightly proud of their efforts.
Another message that came across clearly was that the festival is not connected in any way to the tercentenary celebrations that will also take place in 2017. There has been some confusion in brethren purchasing a Tercentenary Jewel in an assumption that it is a Festival Jewel – which it is not. Care should be taken therefore when making payments to the Masonic Charitable Foundation, not to refer to the tercentenary. There have been cases where payments have inadvertently been directed to the wrong account.
Time was also devoted to providing information regarding the new Provincial merchandise that is available, the profits from such sales going entirely to support the festival. Provincial ties, bow ties, pocket squares (all of which are available in polyester or silk and in Craft and Royal Arch colours) and cufflinks have been produced and can be purchased through the Provincial shop on the Provincial website;
http://www.westlancsfreemasons.org.uk/provincial-shop or from charity stewards.
A lively, candid and informative question and answer session took place before the meeting was concluded and in their closing remarks David Winder and Ted Rhodes thanked all those present for their time, interest and commitment. There is little doubt that there will be a lot of very proud Masons in the Blackpool Group during the coming four years.