With eight stunning air-conditioned suites and parking for nearly 200 cars, Saxon Hall provided the perfect venue for the Burnley & Pendle District 1759 Demonstration team performance at Southend. The date was 4th July 2014 and weeks of preparation had already taken place to get to this point.
The players, comprising of 13 dedicated Freemasons from the Burnley & Pendle District, already had two years of performances under their belts at various local masonic halls and in the process have raised over £4,200 for the 2015 Festival, but nothing however prepared them for the long journey to Southend or the spectacular venue that was Saxon Hall.
The Demonstration Team were invited as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of ‘The Lodge of Beneficence No 7978’ in the Province of Essex, and it was a member of the Lodge, W.Bro Terry Sheern who arranged the performance on behalf of their 50th celebrations.
During the social board the Provincial Grand Master of Essex W.Bro John M Webb said this of The Lodge of Beneficence
“From its Consecration in 1964 the Lodge has shown the value and importance of high quality Ritual in promoting the Craft to its newly Initiated Brethren. This has proved to be so successful and demonstrates why the Lodge has grown from strength to strength in its first 50 years.”
6:00 AM on Friday 4th July saw the team gather at Burnley Masonic Hall for a very early start on their journey down to Southend. The local Premier Inn had already been booked for the 10 players, 4 wives and our President, WBro Martin Roche PSGD APGM, of which we were all delighted to have along and were very grateful for his support.
Sad news rocked the team just before departure when we learnt that our founding Tyler, W.Bro Godfrey Eyre, who had been unwell for several weeks, passed away at 8:45 PM the previous evening. He was a much loved Freemason in the district and the only member of the team with any acting experience. His timing was impeccable, and his explanation of Geometry and the Egyptians was hilarious. We all knew he would be observing us during the performance.
The journey south proved uneventful and good time was made, so much so that we arrived at the Hotel for midday. As part of the preparations for the performance, one of the team, WBro Bob Summers and his wife Jackie, were able to arrive in Southend on the Thursday and arranged to meet up with the organisers of Beneficence Lodge early Friday morning to set up the Lodge room. It proved really useful to have everything in place prior to arrival of the Team.
Southend Pier, Ice Cream, Fish & Chips and the odd beer distracted the team for the early afternoon as everyone settled in and prepared themselves for the celebratory performance.
I don’t know what it was, but nerves seemed to be a little frayed as we changed into costume, perhaps it was the occasion, or the fact that we had the gaffer with us. In reality we had nothing to be concerned about. By 4:30 pm we had kicked off the performance to 150+ members and visitors including the PGM and Dep.PGM of the Craft, the PGM and the Dep.PGM of the Mark and over 24 Grand Officers. The candidate on this occasion was Bro C.W.F Webb, a 2010 member of Lodge of Beneficience. He was well and truly initiated into 1759 Freemasonry by the team, and vocally guided around the lodge by the J.D. Harvey Capstick in olde Lancashire dialect. Suffice it to say a lot of explanation and translation was required.
W.Bro Martin Roach, on behalf of the 1759 team, received a very generous donation of £500 from the W.M. towards the East Lancashire 2015 RMBI Festival
Official Pictures by a professional photographer were organised to record the event, and a satisfied and happy Lodge of Freemasons and performers looked forward to a splendid meal and Social Board. Stewards from the Lodge worked really hard continually providing wine and port or brandy with the Cheese board.
The Provincial Grand Master of Essex W.Bro John M Webb gave a rendition of his past visits and memories of the Lodge, and welcomed many responses from Lodge officers and visitors.
The big surprise of the evening was the response to the visitors toast by W.Bro Roger De Courcey and Nookie Bear. A member of Chelsea Lodge and several times performer at the London Palladium, including a Royal Command Performance. Nookie Bear, who was attired in Masonic regalia, took great delight ribbing the Northern accents of the 1759 team and making fun of the brethren and W.M.
All said it was a wonderful Golden Jubilee Celebration by a very successful Lodge in a magnificent venue, and the members of the 1759 Demonstration team were very proud to have performed and been a part of the entire process.