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.
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.
Tuesday 15th November saw Mark Wiltshire installed as the Master or leader of the Hungerford Lodge by Jeremy Dickins. Jeremy has been a real asset to the Lodge over the last year. He has worked hard at the ceremonies and has been just as diligent with the administrative side of the Lodge. Jeremy thanked his team for their support over the previous year before installing his successor in the time-honoured manner. Mark then appointed his team for the coming year, demonstrating how capable he is at memorising and reciting the ritual whilst at the same time displaying a sense of humour and a deftness of touch.
Once the ceremonial part of the evening was over, the members and guests retired to the Newbury Royal British Legion (RBL) Club for a celebratory meal. In all, 88 people sat down to dine on tomato soup, roast beef and all the trimmings, followed by a cheese board. The buzz of excitement for the evening had been building over the last few weeks and the atmosphere at the meal was electric. Masons had travelled from near and far to witness the changing of the guard as it is always a special event in a Lodge’s calendar.
Mark is part of the Provincial Outreach team and most, if not all, of the team had turned out to support their colleague. The Outreach team runs Open Days at each of the Masonic Centres throughout Berkshire with a view to making Freemasonry more accessible to the public and dispelling some of the myths propagated by the national media. The team had recently opened the Newbury Masonic Centre for one such event as part of the Remembrance Day activities in Newbury.
Once the meal was over the raffle was drawn with some splendid prizes available. The generosity of those attending meant that £500 was raised by the raffle and a further £180 was collected for alms. Mark consulted with his team and they decided to present a donation of £250 to the RBL Poppy Appeal on behalf of the Lodge. The remainder was donated the Lodge Benevolent Association for future charitable works. The RBL team were extremely grateful for the generosity.
A traditional part of the celebrations at the Installation of a new Master, is the singing of The Master’s Song. This is a combination of solo and participatory singing. Those who have been the recipient, know this is a very emotional moment for the new Master. One of Mark’s close friends, Graham Reynolds had jokingly offered to sing the Master’s Song for Mark at his installation. Mark was delighted by this offer and held his friend to this commitment. Graham’s skills as a Heating (not cooling) Engineer are more in demand than his singing skills and he was a touch out of practice. This added to the fun of the evening.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master (deputy leader for Berkshire Masons) Anthony Howlett-Bolton was on hand to witness the event along with his retinue and they left having thoroughly enjoyed the evening.