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The Charity Giving Evening is one of the high points of the year in the Southern Area of East Lancashire. Though there are now only 30 Lodges and 18 Chapters between our three Masonic Halls we still manage to punch above our weight when it comes to giving away what we have. The Charity Giving Evening has now been taking place for the last twelve years, and in that time we have, collectively, given away well over half a million pounds, to an enormous range of good causes, including everything from National organisations to local Scouting, Guiding and Youth Football Teams here in Tameside. When you remember that all of this giving really comes out of our own pockets, we have a great deal to be proud of, and to shout about.
From l to r – “Mrs Carol Hodson, Gerry Hodson, Councillor David McNally, Peter Douthwaite, Catherine Douthwaite, Civic Mayor Councillor Denise Ward, John Pearson, Denise Pearson
This year our event took place at Ashton Masonic Hall. The evening was hosted by WBro John Pearson, our APGM, and his wife Denise. The principal guests were the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Denise Ward together with her Mayoral Consort, and husband, Councillor David McNally. Also present were our APGP Gerald Hodson representing the Royal Arch, together with his wife Carol the Chairmen of our Districts, Peter Douthwaite with his wife Catherine, representing Ashton & Mossley and John Cavanagh and his wife Heather representing Audenshaw.
As ever, the evening was introduced by John Pearson who reminded us of all the good things that have been happening in our area and pointing out some of the other things that will be taking place in the coming months. He also pointed out that we are beginning to see signs of growth in local Freemasonry with numbers of initiates on the rise. All in all he painted a very positive picture of the way that the Craft is moving both locally and in the wider world.
Of course, the important part of the evening was that part that followed his introduction. We had a stream of people who came up on the stage to receive donations from individual Lodges or Chapters or groups of Lodges. All of them had a story to tell and they all told us, with very simple dignity, about what had caused them to be present. In some cases they were seeking help for others, in other cases it was for themselves. Some were suffering from life changing, or even ending, conditions. Others came because they needed our help, to provide sports kit for youth teams, to assist them in visiting a World Scout Jamboree, to help them pay the rent on a meeting place or to assist in setting up a Community Service. As our compere, John Cavanagh likes to say, “There are a million stories……” and we heard just a small fraction of them. It brought me close to tears on many occasions, and I was not alone.
The final donation of the evening was a donation of £250.00 each from the two Districts that make up our area, and it was made to the Civic Mayor on behalf of her Mayoral Charities. In her response, Councillor Ward said, “There is nothing like giving money away to those who need it. Dave and I are honoured that you asked us to come here tonight and share this experience with you. There is a great spirit that exists among you, thank you all, it has been a privilege to be here.”
Peter Douthwaite, District Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District, John Pearson APGM and Gerry Hodson, APGP and representing the Audenshaw District, present cheques totalling £500.00 to Councillor Denise Ward, Civic Mayor of Tameside
The final analysis shows that during the course of the year our two Districts made a total of 116 donations. The smallest donation was of fifty pounds, and the largest, a collective donation, was for more than £4,000.00. In total, the Lodges and Chapters of the Southern Area gave away a grand total of £31,360.92 in 2018 – 19. That total takes our twelve year cumulative total to £594,971.00. One recipient, though, put everything in focus when he said, “You look at the donation we have received tonight, and you may think that it is a small donation, we asked for £100.00 and we received that amount. It is not the amount that matters, though, for that hundred pounds will pay the rent on our meeting room for a full year. What you have given us is not a hundred pounds, but a whole year of mutual support. That is worth more than money.”
The text of this article and all the photographs are by Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley District Freemasons. All of the photographs taken on the evening are available to view and download by going to the Gallery on the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire Webserver at the following address – https://bit.ly/2P1wfOj – These photographs are copyright ©Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley Freemasons. Their use, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes, without the express written permission of the copyright holder is strictly forbidden.