The Rev Michael Ridley welcomed everyone to the service at St Thomas’ Church Stockton Heath, saying that for him the annual service of nine lessons and carols for Warrington’s Freemasons was the start of the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of Christ. He added that it didn’t seem like 12 months ago since the last Masonic Carol Service. He announced that the Cadishead Public Band would be enhancing the evening, suggesting that the congregation may like to show their appreciation before the service started. Concluding his introduction, he thanked the band in anticipation of their performance, and everyone for their attendance and support.
The band played carols alternating with Peter Blease the organist, whilst the congregation joined in singing. Both the choir and the congregation were in fine voice. Many said they had really enjoyed the service particularly the band and the singing.
The lessons were read by James Walker, Peter Whalley, Michael Williams, Michael Hamilton, John Tyrer, John Gregory, Chris Eyres, Brian Potter and Rev Michael Ridley. Solo singers were David Knight and Katie Blease. Following the service most of the congregation assembled in the church hall, where refreshments were available in the form of tea or coffee, sherry and mince pies.
Warrington Group Chairman Andy Barton gave special thanks to the Rev Michael Ridley and the Parochial Church Council for the work undertaken and for the use of the church and the church hall. Thanks also went to Peter Blease for playing the organ and for organising the service, to the Cadishead Public Band, the Masonic Hall Staff, the readers, the soloists and all who took part in the service and those who helped both during the service and afterwards. He also thanked Dave Anderson for organising the grand Christmas draw which raised £1,445. Andy said he was highly delighted to see so many people attending and thought it was an excellent turnout.
The raffle was then drawn for £300, £200 and £100 respectively with many more prizes of wines, spirits and confectionery being won. Just before the evening closed Vic Charlesworth, museum curator, announced that the Masonic Museum had received preliminary notification that they had gained charitable status. He continued by thanking all concerned for their help and support in gaining this status.
Andy brought the evening to a close by thanking everyone for their attendance and wishing all a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year with family and friends.