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Southend & Essex Masonic Welfare Trust celebrates 50-Years serving Essex Freemasons


   John Heron                 Nigel Jackson                        Terry Webb                                    David Mills

                       Roy Squibb                      Fred Thornback                   Graham Halsey


The Southend & Essex Masonic Welfare Trust has come of age. Since its conception in 1973, the brainchild of Maurie Woolf and Sonny Leigh with the main objective to provide to all Freemasons and their families in the Province of Essex, on loan, and free of charge, ‘equipment’ to aid those suffering from illness or recuperating from surgery has gone from strength to strength.


To celebrate this momentous achievement, the trust organised three special lunches at Saxon Hall over a week during August with each of the events being ‘free of charge’ to all widows.


Tuesday (8th) was a Cockney event with a menu of sea food and bangers & mash followed by sing-along entertainment with Russ Pinder and his associate reflecting cockney rhyming slang with many ‘im & ‘er jokes.


Along with Graham, Georgina a member of the Saxon Hall dining staff joins in the fun

Two days later a Barbecue with all the old favourites, sausage, chicken, burgers, kebabs all grilled on the outside barbie grill and to complete the afternoon the charms of singer entertainer Paul Jerrom, who encouraged many to join him in his unique style of entertainment.


Finally, just three days later the full magnificence of the renown, Saxon Hall Sunday Carvery lunch with 60 widows in attendance. As the Carvery is open to all, 25 guests had to be transferred to the following Sunday.

All the events were a great success and Graham Halsey the Chairman of the Trust, said, “I am justly proud of our achievements over the past 50-years and can only express my thanks to all those who have assisted into making it all happen but in particular, Fred Thornback who has, without doubt been the driving force. So many freemasons and their families have been helped by our original ‘simple’ concept in providing equipment to aid those in distressed circumstances.” 


He went on to explain that all the events being so close together was to coincide with when the trust ‘annually assisted' with providing two-week holidays in Southend for a selected party of 25 holidaymakers from all over the country. The trust working closely with the RMBI who paid for the holidays but, the entertainment and coach outings, including collecting and returning the holidaymakers to their London train stations, the Trust paid for.


In looking back Graham remembers there was a lot of planning and having to sort out many problems but, also some seriously funny moments, one of which he said, “When travelling on a coach sweating in the heat of the summer and only to find the air conditioning wasn’t working! – relief arrived by way of a thunderstorm but, then we found, water was leaking in through many of the air conditioning outlets – can you now imagine, a coach full of widows all holding up umbrellas!”


The Trust, which has Charity status, added Essex into its title in early 2000 as their influence had spread throughout Essex and the apparatus now being supplied became a 50/50 split between Southend and Essex.


Should you require the services of the Trust you can click the link below for further information. Also, as the Trust relies on donations from Essex Brethren and Essex Lodges you can also see how to donate:

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