Paul Palmer

12 Million Steps for Muscular Dystrophy

112 Essex Freemasons stepped up to the plate for the Provincial ‘500 Step Challenge’. In the eight days from 23rd to 30th December 2020, the Brethren recorded a total of 12,378,321 steps, the equivalent of walking 6,189 miles.  St Philip Lodge No 4221 whose four team members, Alan Keith, Andy Cross, Joe Wiggins and Paul Leacock marched into first place with an average of 20,478 steps each day and gave their prize-winning charitable donation to Muscular Dystrophy UK, in memory of the late Spencer Walsh, the brother-in-law of Andy Cross, who sadly passed away on 7th December 2020.

For Andy Cross, the sexagenarian Treasurer of St Philip Lodge, every step was a challenge, suffering with heel pain in his right foot from a ligament inflammation (plantar fascia) he still managed to complete 242,926 steps.  Exactly 100 years ago, the Founders of St Philip Lodge were also taking challenging steps. The Warrant of the Lodge was granted on 13th December 1920 and arrangements for the Consecration were well under way. As the Founders look down from Grand Lodge above, they must be feeling very proud of the current St Philip Lodge members as they begin their Centennial year.

The leading individual was Clive Cheeseman with a total of 275,784 steps from second placed Henry de Gray Lodge No 6627. His team was followed in order by Cornerstone, St Kath’s Turkey Trotters, Spero Lodge, Orsett Lodge, The Beeleigh Abbey Lodge, Round Table Lodge of Essex, Old Parkonians Lodge, The Dragon of St George, Albert Lucking Chubbsters, Sons of Benfleet, Old Easthameian, Essex Quadrant Lodge, Team Wakering, Haven Step Brothers, Prittlewell 3 Amigos, Shenfield Lodge, Saint Cedd, Paul Geadey Gaggle, Alan Keith Quadrant, Lodge of Amity No 5753, Team Higgins and The Dragon of St George.

The widow of Spencer, Mrs Jill Welsh has written “I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Province of Essex Freemasons for the ‘500 Step Challenge’ donation. This been donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK, a cause very close to our hearts having lost our son to this cruel disease at the age of 17. With tributes also from family and friends we have been able to send in excess of £2,000 to this worthy charity. With my deepest gratitude”.

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Saxon Hall Vaccination Centre

Police swoop on ‘lockdown rave’ at Saxon Hall ... to find 80+year olds queueing for their Covid jabs!

Southend’s freemasonry centre, Saxon Hall, in Aviation Way, opened its doors last week to NHS front line staff, offering the building for use as a vaccination centre in the battle against Covid19.

On the chilly opening day, the first 80-year-old-plus invitees for a jab turned up for their 8am appointments almost an hour early, and kept coming.

Helping the queues grow even longer was the late arrival of the actual vaccines – and then there wasn’t enough supply to meet demand, which led to further delays, and lengthening queues, while fresh supplies were sourced.

And then police arrived. Chairman of Saxon Hall Dennis Baum, pressed into willing duty as a car park attendant, said: “They had been notified that there was a rave taking place at Saxon Hall – only to find 80and 90-year-olds with wheelchairs, zimmer frames and walking sticks patiently queueing for their vaccinations.”

Dennis added that although the earlier queues had resulted in a few grumpy old men and women, “as a balancing act, many more very appreciative people couldn’t have been more grateful to receive the vaccine, and thanked Saxon Hall and Essex freemasons for providing the venue”.

In the days following, local voluntary organisations, including the Leigh Lions, Community Police and OneLove Soup Kitchen Southend, made queueing a lot more comfortable for those awaiting the vaccine by providing gazebo shelters, hot drinks, blankets and wheelchairs, as well as helping with steward duties and providing refreshments for the hardworking NHS staff.

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