With the new season now well underway, it is time to take stock of what we have achieved so far for the 2021 Mark Benevolent Fund (MBF) Festival and what the near future holds.

Our total to date now stands in excess of £375,000 and is steadily rising towards a total worthy of a Province of the stature of East Lancashire. Our Province has a proud record of charity as evidenced by our own East Lancashire Mark Benevolent Fund which is the only Mark Province in the country to own and operate two residential centres for the benefit of Mark brethren and their wives/widows in addition to donating considerable sums to meritorious local charities.

It is against this backcloth that I appeal to you all to continue your support of the Festival. It cannot have escaped most people’s attention that our Province has received considerable support from the MBF for our brethren, wives, widows and dependents who are in need; a total approaching £1.5 million over a fifteen-year period. They have supported us and it is now time for us to support them.

I am grateful to Trevor Parvin for his organisation of the very successful Festival Banquet at Middleton. A splendid evening which raised over £2,000 for the Festival. Thanks also to Dennis Schiff for organising the Neil Diamond tribute night at Rochdale Football Club. Again, a very successful night raising some £3,000 for the Festival. Watch this space for future events.

Of course, many Lodges, groups of Lodges and individuals organise fund raising events which contribute significant sums towards our total and your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks are also due to our Festival Ambassadors as they visit the Lodges on their respective lists and help and encourage the brethren of those Lodges in their fund raising activities.

Much work goes on behind the scenes as we prepare for the Festival Banquet which will be held at Old Trafford Football Club on 3 July 2021. Everything must be in place by the end of June 2020 as bookings will start to flood in immediately after the 2020 Festival in Kent. I am grateful for the support of the ‘Banquet Committee’ as we move up yet another gear in our preparation.

In closing, I wish to express my appreciation of the work undertaken by the Festival Committee for their unstinting assistance in driving the Festival forward.

My best wishes to you all and continue to enjoy your mark Masonry and your fund raising efforts.