On a warm late spring evening, 150 members of the Woolton Group together with guests gathered at the Village Hotel, Whiston for their Tercentenary Black Tie Dinner.
Woolton Group have held several events so far, this year including their celebrated Sunday luncheons and a trip to London with a visit to Grand Lodge and an evening cruise on the Thames. The black tie evening was a culmination of a so far momentous and challenging schedule for celebrating.
The dinner menu card had been designed with a black tie theme and the hotel staff had added by dressing all the tables and chairs in black and white that created a very impressive view of the room. The Tercentenary banner was most prominent above the stage.
On arrival, everyone was offered a glass of Prosecco and whilst we waited for the dining room to open we were entertained by Mike Tattersall providing a medley of songs. Once everyone had taken their seats for dinner, the director of ceremonies for the evening Gary Devlin, announced the entrance of the Group Chairman Andy Whittle accompanying his wife Amanda together with the group Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton with his wife Sue, Sam Robinson with his wife Julie, the Group Vice Chairman Mike Cunliffe with his wife Felicity followed by the principal guest, our Provincial Grand Master Anthony Harrison and with his wife Maureen.
Grace was given by Mike Cunliffe and the dinners tucked into chicken liver pate on toasted crostini followed by roast turkey, roast potatoes and Lincolnshire sausage which was followed by chocolate and vanilla profiteroles and a choice of tea and coffee. As an added touch, there were small jars of assorted sweets on each table. During the meal tickets were sold for the raffle and Irish bingo.
After the meal was finished Mike Cunliffe returned thanks and Andy Whittle provided the loyal toast and the toast to the Ladies. Sam Robinson provided, in a jocular manner, the toast to the Woolton Group.
It was now time for Kevin Poynton and associate Sam Robinson to conduct the auction. The group are extremely grateful to Jim Corcoran for donating some of the auction items which included two signed footballs of the current team members and managers for both Liverpool FC and Everton FC and a boxing glove which had been worn by Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua MBE, a British professional boxer who is the Unified World Heavyweight Champion, having held the IBF title since 2016 and the WBA and IBO titles since April 2017.
There were even phone bids for this one! One other special auction item was a 1933 Liverpool program donated by the father of a Woolton Mason. There was some very strong bidding for the auction items and all the proceeds would go towards the MCF 2021 Festival. Kevin and Sam entertained in their usual style to add hilarity to the task before them.
To bring some much-needed relief after the ferocious bidding, dancing started and music was provided by the Brothers Grim who played some excellent music which ensured the dance floor remained full to capacity. Whilst the band took a well earned break the group chairman took to the floor to make a few announcements and presentations.
Firstly, Andy Whittle thanked everyone for their support by attending the event and for providing all the raffle prizes, with special thanks to SGB Hairdressing who had donated a £100 voucher and a set of GHD straighteners; Slater’s Menswear had donated two £100 vouchers; Olympic Lodge No 4461 had provided a membership of the Freemasons Associated Membership of Woolton Golf Club. As this was somewhat of a special occasion each WM’s partner would receive a special gift as well as each lady receiving a personal gift. Andy informed everyone that the raffle had raised £1,020, this was met with rapturous applause. The game of Irish bingo had raised £200 and the auction £375 making a total of £1,595.
The Provincial Grand Master was asked to join Andy on the floor and Doug Lace was pleased to present a cheque, on behalf of Mariners’ Lodge No 249, which had recently had to surrender its warrant, for £1,200 for Tithebarn a charity which the Woolton Group had been supporting throughout the year. Tony Harrison gratefully accepted this together with a cheque from the Woolton Group for £1,250.
It was then with immense pride and pleasure that Andy Whittle, on behalf of the group, presented Tony Harrison with a cheque for £4,500 for the MCF 2021 Festival. For once our Provincial Grand Master was stuck for words!! Tony thanked the group for its magnificent support and said that since he launched the Festival at Provincial Grand Lodge, money had been pouring in and the total currently stood at £1,250,000 collected in just a week! Tony said that he hoped everyone would continue to support the Festival and that everyone would continue to enjoy their Freemasonry.
The Chairman of the Friends of Tithebarn John Stallard, was present and he gratefully received from Tony Harrison the cheques that had been presented. However, this was not quite the end of the presentations as Kevin Poynton had one further surprise in store. Kevin announced, and nobody knew of this, that the Woolton Group had just been awarded Patronage of the MCF 2021 Festival and asked Tony Harrison to present Andy with the certificate.
Andy Whittle then invited each of the WMs and their partners to step forward to receive a special gift and as Tony Harrison was the master of Provincial Grand Lodge, there was also a gift for his wife Maureen and the group presented a bottle of liquid refreshment to Tony. Table stewards were then asked to collect a gift for each lady on their table.
To close, Andy once again thanked everyone for their support and special thanks extended to the group social committee who had worked so hard to put everything together to ensure an excellent evening. Dancing continued to the music from the Brothers Grim and the resident hotel disco.
Story and photographs by Colin Roberts