In an awe inspiring display of camaraderie and friendship, three brothers of Hungerford Lodge 4748 embarked on a gruelling 55-mile challenge along the picturesque Avon & Kennet Canal tow path.
Brothers Darren Duckitt, Ross Holden & Dave Wisson, set out on this extraordinary journey to raise awareness and funds for their Worshipful Masters charity of choice, the motor neurone disease association (MNDA).
From the crack of dawn, the determined trio pushed themselves along the varied terrains of the tow path, and with the weather seemingly to be on their side, providing them with favourable conditions to undertake their challenge.
However, as the day progressed, the temperature began to rise, creating a warm and challenging environment for the brothers. Despite the heat, they continued, driven by their determination and a bit of light goading between themselves.
Throughout their journey, the brothers received support at various checkpoints along the canal, which provided crucial opportunities for rest, refuelling, and gathering their strength. The brothers took advantage of these respites, allowing them to regain their energy and focus (and to smother themselves in various creams in areas I do not wish to mention)
As the brothers pressed on, their determination and focus was evident. However, amidst the excitement and physical exertion, the brothers became overzealous and inadvertently missed the 20mile planned checkpoint along the way. Despite the setback, the support relocated to an ad hoc checkpoint just ahead of their current position.
The missed checkpoint served as a valuable reminder of the importance of attentiveness and adherence to the prearranged plan. It was a humbling moment for the brothers, underscoring the need for careful navigation during such demanding challenges. Acknowledging the oversight, they regained their poise and pushed onto the next checkpoint.
At the 30-mile checkpoint, the brothers took a break by tucking into a quick meal to replenish their energy stores. They also took this opportunity to change into fresh clothing, relieving any discomfort from their sweat-soaked attire. Creams and ointments were generously applied once again! After the short break was over, they pressed on despite the heat.
However, the heat and the physically demanding nature of the challenge, it began to take its toll, at the 40-mile mark, brother Darren Duckitt made the difficult decision to gracefully bow out. Undeterred, Brothers Holden & Wissen continued on their arduous journey, shifting between running, walking, and even shuffling, pushing themselves further along the canal path.
As the day progressed and the daylight began to fade, there were a couple of stumbles in the dark, resulting in a minor injury, and at the 49.7mile mark the final decision to end the challenge was made by the remaining two brothers. It was a difficult choice, but one that underlined their commitment through unity, compassion, and perseverance.
As they rest and recover from their remarkable feat, despite their journey not culminate in completing the full 55 miles, the brothers have left an indelible mark. Their dedication, resilience, and unwavering stubbornness to persevere have already made a significant impact. The brother’s express their gratitude for the support they have received from everyone.
In common with the rest of the nation, Hungerford Freemasons paid their respects to all those that have served but especially those that gave their tomorrows for our today.
Our membership is drawn from a wide area covering Marlborough, Hungerford and Newbury and the surrounding villages. They paid their respects within their local communities with some participating in the larger ceremonies in Hungerford and Newbury.
On occasions like these we cast our minds back to members of the Lodge who survived the wars but have sadly been taken from us. We carry their memories forever because we were enriched by their friendship and brotherhood.
Bert Harrison, WW2 veteran, long-time Hungerford resident and Hungerford Lodge member was one of the nicest people that you could ever wish to meet. We will remember them…
Members of the Hungerford Lodge were just recovering from the loss of our Chaplain, Nigel Ludlow last month when the news came through of the loss of another member, Bert Harrison.
Brother Bertram Horace Leonard Harrison, Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer or “Young Bert” as we referred to the 94 year old, was one of the nicest men you could ever wish to meet. Bert was always smiling, whatever life threw at him. Until recently he came to Lodge whenever one of the members could transport him and we were all overjoyed to see him.
A fanatical Chelsea supporter, he even managed to break his walking frame in his excitement when the Blues beat Arsenal. He also loved watching speedway, although more recently this was via satellite TV.
All of this sounds like almost anyone’s father or grandfather. Whilst Bert was that to his family, he was also one of a dwindling number of people who took part in the key battles of the Second World War.
He was honoured as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the French government, for his gallantry during the Second World War. He served as a medic in the Royal Navy and as a 20-year old took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Southern France on August 15th and 16th 1944. Originally code named Anvil, it was designed to complement Operation Sledgehammer, or what we now know as Operation Overlord (the Normandy landings). You can read more of Bert’s story here.
Bert was initiated into the Hungerford Lodge on the 17th January 1978. In his forty year long Masonic career, Bert gave widely and freely of his time. Well into his eighties he was still serving as one of the official Examiners to the Lodge accounts. It is therefore perhaps surprising that he never served as Master of the Lodge. Bert was meek and humble and preferred life out of the spotlight. His contribution to the Lodge and Freemasonry in general meant that he was recognised by the Province, being one of a select few wearing a Provincial apron bearing rosettes.
Whilst the Lodge will miss Bert, he will now be reunited with his wife, Florence.
It broke our hearts to lose you – But you didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you – The day God called you home.
Donating to the #Berks2023 Festival is as easy as clicking a button and filling in a quick form. You can make a single donation or set up a regular monthly payment to help you spread the cost. £10 per month for the five years of the festival makes £600 and qualifies you to become a Festival Steward.
You enter your Lodge Number (hint: 4748 🙂 ) and your donation is recorded against our Lodge target. Don’t forget to fill in the Gift Aid section, if you qualify. Remember, almost everyone is taxed on their income in some way.
Hungerford Freemasons recently donated £230 to Loose Ends, a drop in centre in Newbury serving food to the homeless and vulnerable. The money, raised in typical masonic style via a raffle, came from the social event following our recent meeting. Lodge members were encouraged to bring raffle prizes as well as tinned food that could be used by the centre.
Loose Ends is run by volunteers who prepare and serve hot, healthy meals as well as offering groceries, tins, toiletries and clean clothes to all those in need.
Helen, a volunteer at Loose Ends thanked everyone for their support and kindness “Without this kind of support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We strive to provide a safe, friendly atmosphere where people can socialise. Our clients are often homeless or ‘sofa surfing’, may have addictions, suffer from a mental illness or are on low incomes.”
You can donate to Loose Ends directly via “MyDonate” – click on Donate to Charity and then search for Loose Ends.
The Hungerford Masonic chain has another new link this month. We welcome into our ranks Tristan, who first met members of the Lodge at an Open Day event and after a period of relection, decided to join us.
He was treated to an excellent ceremony, which he found very emotional. He was visibly moved by the part of the ceremony which focuses on the importance of charity, excellently delivered by our Director Ceremonies, Gilbert Mills. We paused a while to allow him to gather himself before completing the ceremony.
We placed Tristan to the right of the Master (Chris “Ralph” Coyle) and surrounded him with the members to support him just in case he wobbled again.
Further, extending our chain, we welcome Andy who joined us as an existing Freemason who wanted to have even more fun in his life.
We also received an update on both Phoebe and Peter from our charity officer, Nick Stephens. Phoebe and her family may continue to need our support as the state mechanisms have yet to kick in fully. The news from Peter is much better, he has been able to assist his wife with the weekly shopping trip, using the basket on his new mobility scooter to bring home the bacon.
As is our tradition, the formalities completed, we headed to the Newbury branch of the Royal British Legion, where we held the social element of the evening. All members were fed and watered, before the Lodge stewards reminded us once more of the importance of charity by selling raffle tickets. On this occasion we were raising money for Loose Ends, a local charity helping the homeless in Newbury and the surrounding area.
If you feel that Freemasonry might be of interest to you, the next Open Day is on Saturday 10th March 2018 from 10am until 3pm. Find us here.
Members of Hungerford Lodge gathered recently to surprise Thatcham resident Peter Congerton with a mobility scooter.
Peter and his family were invited to the Newbury Masonic Centre for a private tour before being shown round the building. Significant items were explained to them before Lodge Charity Officer, Nick Stephens, presented Peter with a brand new mobility scooter.
Peter has spinal issues and was saving up to buy himself a scooter so that he could help his wife with the weekly shop but due to his injury, he needed one with special suspension costing £1,900. Nick, who has known Peter and his family for a while, stepped in and offered to ask the Masonic charities for help.
Peter was overwhelmed and, as is typical of his generation, felt that others were far more deserving than him.
He was grateful for Nick simply spending time with him. In one email he included the following lines
An illuminated light from the shadow
That gives without asking or wanting
Who treats everyone with the same respect
And I want to thank you friend for
being that light from the shadow
Your kind ways always bring a smile to my face.
Peter is not a freemason and, until his tour of the Newbury Masonic Centre, knew nothing of the Craft, however, he has summed up the spirit of Freemasonry beautifully.
Peter gave up work many years ago through poor health and now has daily seizures due to epilepsy, resulting in many falls. He has recently been to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for an operation on his spine and was told he had a 1 in 6 chance of coming back from the operation. Thankfully the operation was successful and he was able to come home.
Peter was promised formal support for his return home, however after a month he is still waiting. He needs a stair lift as he cannot walk or get upstairs and he has received very little physiotherapy. Until the stairlift is fitted, he is reduced to sleeping on the sofa which is upsetting for Peter and Linda, his wife of 39 years.
The Hungerford Lodge will be keeping an eye on this family with a view to providing help where the normal mechanisms cannot.
At a recent meeting of the Hungerford Lodge, the members entertained their partners and friends with a meal and Christmas Carol singing, accompanied by the Hungerford Town Band. The members met briefly in the Masonic Centre, a short walk from “The Legion“, whilst their partners and guests were entertained at the Legion by the Lodge’s Stewards.
In a change from the traditional Auction, it was decided to run a White Table evening with raffle. In Masonic circles, a White Table event is one where the members conduct a limited amount of Masonic business before joining their partners and friends for a meal.
One tradition that has been maintained despite the move from Hungerford to Newbury has been the link with the Hungerford Town Band. They have traditionally led our carol singing and, in turn, we have been staunch supporters, often helping to fund new instruments for up and coming musicians.
The raffle was well supported as usual with the Stewards working their usual magic to extricate money from all of the members.
This year there was an especially poignant reason for the members to dig deep. Our Charity Steward had been become aware of the plight of a local family who are experiencing extreme financial difficulties.
The eldest daughter, who is nineteen, has recently been diagnosed with brain cancer. She has since undergone over 50 hours of surgery which has sadly left her with many issues including being blind in one eye and difficulties walking.
The family are struggling to live day to day as the mother is now a full time carer and therefore unable to work. The Government support processes are involved but can take up to 16 weeks for money to come through. They are currently reliant on the local food bank and other handouts while their paperwork is processed.
When our Charity Steward, Nick, visited them to understand how the Berkshire Masonic family could help, he asked the young lady what she would like for Christmas and her reply was simply a pink handbag. Her eight year old sister asked for some Sylvanian family dolls, whilst the mother was just glad to have her daughter home.
This story touched every heart and the members of the Berkshire Masonic family have done everthing they can to ensure that this will be a great Christmas for this family. “Saint” Nick and a few elves visited the family to deliver three Christmas sacks of presents. The members raised £300, some of which has been used to put credit on prepay cards for both telephone and electricity.
Needless to say, a few tears of grateful joy were shed but this family are starting to look to the future. There is the small matter of 10, yes ten, medical appointments in January but the recovery process is beginning.
The members of the Hungerford Lodge are pleased to have been able to help this family and wish them, and everyone, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
If this story has sparked your interest in Freemasonry and you think you might like to join us, we would love to hear from you.
Peter George Townsend Ludlow is the current Father of Hungerford Lodge. This term is used to describe the member with the longest continuous service to the Lodge. He started his long and illustrious masonic career on 19th February 1957 when he was initiated into the Hungerford Lodge and he has been a constant member ever since.
Progressing steadily through the ranks within the Lodge he was installed as Master on 15th November 1966. His performance as Master obviously caught the eye of the Berkshire Provincial team as he subsequently rose to the rank of Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire and then on to Past Senior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Despite being 90, Peter is a very active Mason. He is a member of a number of Masonic Lodges and other Masonic orders within Berkshire, Wiltshire and Somerset and visits widely. He regularly brings a retinue of guests to our meetings.
Peter is well-loved within the Lodge and his is the calm voice we turn to when guidance is required, for example when the Lodge moved its meeting place from Hungerford to Newbury. When we recently interviewed a young prospective candidate, Peter spoke passionately about Freemasonry’s ability to keep him interested for 60 years as well as the support it has given him through troubled times such as the recent loss of his beloved wife, Daphne. Which other hobby can bring men of 23 and 90 together in this way?
At our meeting on 21st February, 65 members and visitors saw Peter presented with a certificate thanking him for his 60 years of service to Freemasonry in the Province of Berkshire. This was then followed by a certificate recognising his dedication from the Province of Somerset. Those attending were also treated to a double Passing ceremony for two of our Four Aces.