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It was in February of this year, during the depths of winter, when Bury’s District Charity Steward Steve Clark was asked by WBro Eric Davidson MBE DL to speak to Col Brian Gorski. Readers who don’t know Eric Davidson through Freemasonry will probably know him from his connection with the Fusiliers, and many more people will know him as the person who is in charge of the annual Remembrance Sunday parade in Bury.
Col Brian Gorski is the person in charge of the prestigious Fusilier Museum in Bury and he has been credited with transforming the presence of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Bury and making the headquarters and museum into institutions that are “at the heart of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the envy of other regiments.” Unfortunately, the museum was without heating during February, and so, although it wasn’t a return to the Cold War, there was a War to be fought against the Cold. Col Gorski explained there are four boilers in the heating system, and they had all broken down in a very short space of time. Without appropriate heating, the museum was unable to operate normally. One boiler had been repaired, however that one remaining boiler was not capable of heating the whole of the building. This resulted in parts of the building being at an acceptable temperature, while other parts of the building were without any heating whatsoever. The complex stretches over four floors and has a large footprint. In addition to the interactive part of the museum, there is also a collection of uniforms, records and medals including a large number of Victoria Crosses. It is imperative for the heritage and care of many of these items and for the care of the grade 2 building itself, that they are kept at a constant temperature to avoid any hint of dampness.
Brian was in urgent need of some funds to get the heating going again and he asked Steve if he would support a bid to the East Lancashire Masonic Charity to replace one of the boilers. The ELMC has supported the museum in the past by helping the creation of an education centre within the museum. That was a successful project and as a consequence, the museum is the host to a large number of educational school visits with 7,000 children having visited in 2017. There is also a significant citizenship and community development feel to the museum’s operating practices including a recent initiative to provide social enterprise services through the catering contract to train young disadvantaged people.
Steve had no hesitation in putting the request to the Grant Making Committee of the East Lancs Masonic Charity which approved the application. The cheque for the replacement of the boiler was presented to Major General Paul Nanson CBE by Steve at the annual Gallipoli Dinner. The replacement of the other boilers has been funded from other sources.
Col Gorski said “All of us at the Fusilier Museum are very grateful for the East Lancashire Masonic Charity’s generosity in supporting the work of the museum by enabling us to keep our visitors warm and by helping to preserve the many artefacts in the museum.”
The Gallipoli Dinner is, of course, a night for wearing regimental ties rather than the East Lancashire Masonic tie. As a consequence, as a former private in the Parachute Regiment, Steve was proud to be wearing his regimental tie while standing between Col Gorski (on Steve’s right) and Major General Nanson (on his left).