Area 5 Freemasons support the Maidstone River Festival
It’s 40 years since the first River Festival was held in Maidstone and so a group of volunteers got together, just as they did in 1980, to put on a celebration of the River Medway in Kent’s county town on Saturday 27th July. The event hasn’t taken place in recent years and so the programme of events was stripped back from previous years to focus on the boats, a raft race and the traditional firework display
The Chairman of the organising committee, last years Mayor of Maidstone David Naghi, approached me at Maidstone Masonic Centre open day back in April and
mentioned an opportunity for us to promote Freemasonry at a local high profile event, namely the Maidstone River Festival.
David was looking to recruit Information Stewards for the event and felt that it would be ideal if Freemasons were willing to assist and at the same time be able to promote ourselves to the public in a positive way. Our duties would be to assist the public with enquiries and report any problems to the organiser’s. To maximise the benefit to ourselves we would be visible as Freemasons by wearing East Kent Provincial Hi Viz tabards.
Taking Freemasonry into the community and talking to people about our values and commitment to Charity is, in my opinion, the most positive way of winning hearts and minds and securing our future through recruitment. Having gained the blessing of W. Bro David Graham APGM to become involved in the event, letters were sent to Lodges and Chapters throughout Area 5 seeking volunteers.
Our remit was to cover the event from start to finish i.e. midday to 11.00pm and provide 4 Stewards to maintain a visible presence on the old bridge, adjacent to the Crown Court, at all times. Historically people have jumped from the bridge into the Medway during the festival and so our presence was intended to deter this from happening.
To provide the required cover we needed 24 Freemasons on bridge duty (2 pairs at a time working in 2 hour shifts) and an additional 2 at any time to staff the East Kent Provincial Gazebo, which was situated at the front of the Thai Orchid Restaurant, by kind permission of the owner. The Gazebo proved to be a godsend as rain persisted throughout most of the day and so it gave us a dry area to operate from until its collection at 6.00pm.
27 Freemasons from across Area 5 gave up their time on the day in support of the event and all did so with great enthusiasm and humor in spite of the very wet conditions.
We received a warm response from those members of the public that we were able to engage with and recorded details of 3 potential new candidates. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t conducive to realising the expected crowds, but those that attended seemed to enjoy the event, which I’m pleased to say went off without incident.
There were no jumpers on my watch!!
David Naghi is determined to run the event again next year and so our services may once again be required, watch this space.
Report by Trevor Pankhurst
The feature image was taken from https://www.maidstoneriverpark.co.uk/2019/07/maidstone-river-festival-2019/