Big hearted Masonic bikers have been revving support for a number of Yorkshire charities.
Members of the Widows Sons ‘Ridings Chapter’ – Freemasons with a passion for motorbikes – have donated a total of £1,250 to six good causes across the region. The funds have been raised mostly through the sale of merchandise to members and supporters and one member participating in the ‘Distinguished Gentleman Riders’ solo ride, a worldwide event to raise money for Men’s Cancer Charities. Those to benefit are Connaught Court care home, York; Martin House Children’s Hospice in Boston Spa, near Wetherby; POPI (Pass On Pre Loved Items), Keighley; Follifoot Disabled Riders Group, Harrogate; PACT (The Parents Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia), Sheffield, who received donations of between £100 and £500. Ridings Chapter President Matthew Duffy said: “Widows Sons are all Freemasons with a passion for motorcycles, meeting regularly at various haunts across the region when we can, and riding out, again when we can. “One of the three great principles of Freemasonry is charity, and as well as enjoying biking, we have also been raising money when we can for a variety of different organisations across the region.” Candidacy of the Widows Sons is open to all Masons who own a road worthy motorbike and hold a full licence. The Ridings Chapter meet at Squires Café Bar, in Sherburn in Elmet, on a Wednesday evening, and Strawberry Fields, York, on a Friday night, both during the summer months. Rideout’s usually take place on a weekend. Further information about the Windows Sons Ridings Chapter is available from its website, http://www.ridingschapter.co.uk/ or by emailing the Secretary at email@example.com
Freemasons from across Leeds have answered a call to ensure hundreds of children across the city will receive at least one present this festive season. In previous years, members of lodges and side orders who meet in Headingley’s Castle Grove Masonic Hall have been asked to donate a present or money to buy gifts, which were then donated to a number of local charities. The organisations who received gifts over the last two years include Leeds Children’s Hospital, Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People, Leeds Children’s Charity, and Leeds Jewish Welfare Board and Barnardo’s. However, because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of Castle Grove, toy appeal co-ordinator organiser Graham Shiers has asked for monetary contributions instead, resulting in an avalanche of cash donations totalling in excess of £2,700 plus donations of brand new toys and clothing. Graham said: “The generosity of my fellow Freemasons is just overwhelming, and because of this we are able to increase the list of recipients this year from five charities to six, with Leeds Baby Bank, PhysCap Children's Charity and Homeless Street Angels now benefitting. “I’ve been blown away by the donations to date. In addition to toys and gifts we are also buying more practical presents including pyjamas and winter clothing. “It has also enabled us to provide other items including nappies, nappy sacks, baby wipes, baby shampoo and wash, plus other essentials that the Leeds Baby Bank will distribute to families in need over the festive period. “We are also now helping four families via Homeless Street Angels, including a single dad whose partner killed herself two years ago. He lost his job due to struggling with child care - he has a ten year old daughter and has nothing for her so we'll make sure she has a good Christmas. “And with many Jewish Freemasons meeting at Castle Grove, I’m once again delighted that Leeds Jewish Welfare Board will again receive Chanukah gifts for the 24 children under its care.” Graham - a member of Loyalty Lodge and the Lodge of Fidelity who started the toy appeal two years ago - said: “Never in all my years of being a Freemason have I been prouder of being a member of this wonderful fraternity. “Despite all the hardships that Covid has inflicted, not only has the local membership risen to the occasion, it has done so to the power of ten, and I couldn’t be more grateful. “I would like to personally thank everyone who has donated to this cause. Charity is one of the three great pillars that Freemasonry is founded on - and charity is very dear to our hearts.”
The November meeting of the Lodge of Eccleshill, Faith and Fraternity No 1034 has traditionally culminated in our festive board being our charity fundraising Olde English Nite (OEN) where lots are brought in by the Brethren of the Lodge and auctioned, but of course current restrictions prevented that. However, despite not being able to physically meet, we held a virtual OEN, which was planned to include some of our old favourites, stand up-sit down bingo, a humorous monologue or two and music from our very own Ukulele wandering minstrel, 'Howling Jack' who promised a tune or two.
Our virtual OEN night was a great success with fourteen Brethren taking part. The invitation to the evening did suggest that we could dress in suitable attire. The Brethren did not disappoint, several sported flat caps looking like an audition queue for Peaky Blinders, one wore an oversized "Tam o' Shanter" hat and ginger wig, others were in their Masonic apparel. One brother was the master of disguise, he went from wearing a Unicorn mask to The Lone Ranger and Dick Turpin, mind you, we were discussing money at the time. Creative use of CGI, or whatever the phrase is, kept us guessing as to which character he would be and where in the world would he end up next; the Northern Lights being my favourite.
Stand up, sit down bingo was a strange affair, it was quite odd viewing the midriffs of the Brethren as they stood patiently waiting for the number to be called, fortunately, most were suitably dressed. I have to confess though that I did accede to wearing a pair of garish shorts whilst another Brother chose to sport a pair of his favourite footie team's designer underwear, discreetly hidden of course!
We were entertained with two hilarious monologues, the first being one we have heard several times "Once upon a time all the dogs in the world held a meeting". Yes, that one which explains why dogs sniff each other's rear. The second "God created the Dog" was equally as hilarious.
Of course, no OEN is complete without a Wandering Minstrel, and 'Howlin Jack' led us through the several verses of 'On Ilkla Moor Baht'at' and that Liverpool Kop Anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. I must say the EFF choir gave it their all and more, still a bit shaky on the high notes, but I guess we will get there.
The purpose of OEN is to have fun and to raise funds for charity. We certainly had some fun, and I am incredibly delighted and proud to say the Brethren of the Lodge of Eccleshill, Faith and Fraternity 1034 did not falter when it came to fundraising. The total money raised is a fantastic £1295, which includes £600 from my bike ride challenge. My challenge was to ride my fold-up bike for 1.5 hours per day for 7 days, cycling on a bike turbo trainer. I was accompanied in this short challenge by one of my neighbours, a triathlete, triathlete coach and winner, in her age group, of the UK Iron Man competition 2006, so I was in good company.
In recent times OEN has raised between £900 - £1000, so this year's event is all the more remarkable as monies raised came entirely from donations by the Brethren of the Lodge who also sponsored me.
A magnificent sum raised, a great fun evening, thanks to everyone involved which left this very proud Worshipful Master feeling emotional at the end.
Harry Stoyles. Worshipful Master Eccleshill, Faith and Fraternity 1034