For many years, the members of Harmonic Lodge No 216 have traditionally reserved their April meeting (the last gathering prior to the summer break) to hold an Olde English Night.
At their regular meetings, after concluding the business of the lodge, the junior warden, by command of the worshipful master, calls the brethren from labour to refreshments so that the brethren can dine in Masonic regalia. Following the tyler’s toast, they resume labour and close the lodge at the festive board.
However, when holding an Olde English Night, non-Masons are invited for a taste of the fun and fundraising side of Freemasonry. The lodge is then closed in the temple on these occasions to comply with Grand Lodge requirements when entertaining non-Masons.
Midway through his year in office, WM Ian Follett followed tradition and instructed his social committee, past masters Eric O’Callaghan and John Donnelly, ably assisted by the DC Jimmy Murphy, to organise the evening.
As all lodges in the Province have been urged to mark the tercentenary in some manner and make a donation of £300 which will be credited to the forthcoming MCF 2021 Festival, The members of Harmonic Lodge discussed a way of marking the occasion. The past masters decided that an Olde English Night was the perfect platform to raise the necessary funds while at the same time enjoying a fun-filled evening and hopefully recruiting some new and suitable members.
A total of 16 members and 24 guests, (14 non-Masons) were seated by 7:00pm to enjoy a hearty meal with copious amounts of wine. On entry, the diners were presented with a commemorative mug and an envelope containing raffle tickets, tombola tickets, bingo card for a game of Irish Bingo and an immunity badge to avoid fynes, which unfortunately proved to be worthless.
The meal, although enjoyable, was regularly interrupted by the stewards demanding payments of fynes imposed by the chief snitch Ian Elsby. Fynes imposed by Ian ranged from supporting Manchester United, £2, to snitching on a fellow guest or member for some minor misdemeanour, £1. Fynes were also imposed for brethren and guests wearing glasses as well as fining others for not wearing them! The newest member of the lodge, entered apprentice Barry, was given the task of selling ‘drinking licenses’ to all present, at a cost of 50p. He was quickly followed by another steward fining them for drinking whilst using a license which had not been signed by the WM!
Another novel way to extract money from those present was to go around the table getting each person to tell a joke and donate £1. Anyone not prepared to tell a joke was fined £2. Needless to say, everyone had to pay up regardless of their contribution or lack of one!
There was plenty of singing during the evening, the brethren of the lodge started proceedings by singing the welcome song to the tune of ‘John Browns Body’. Then it was the turn of the stewards singing the stewards song to the tune of ‘Poor Little Lambs’. The guests unwillingly sang the visitor’s lament sung to the tune of ‘Oh Dear What Can the Matter be’. Finally everyone joined in the community song, sung to the tune of ‘Good Night Ladies’.
With dozens of tombola and raffle prizes donated by the members of the lodge, everyone left with armfuls of items, some of which, probably ended up in the rubbish bin on the way home, whilst others delighted in winning very tasteful prizes. Ian reflected on a very successful evening which netted over £400.
All members and visitors although being left with just their bus fares home, congratulated Ian and the members of the social committee for a well organised and fun fundraising night. As an added bonus, it is likely that some future candidates will be the result of this introduction to Freemasonry for those non-Masonic guests.