Traditional French Night

On Saturday the 21st January 2023, Minnis Bay Lodge no 8496 held a traditional French Night at the Masonic Hall in Birchington.

The evening was arranged by John Matthews and his wife
Jacqueline who also jointly manned the bar. The event was advertised as limited to fifty seats but in a record seven days, it had sold out and extra places were made available.

On the night, fifty-five people sat down in a colourfully decorated dining room. Several were sporting French costumes which added to the party atmosphere.

The evening began with a lucky ticket draw where one lucky person won a very nice bottle of French Champagne to enjoy with the meal. Traditional French music was playing in the background to add to the ambience.

The traditional meal then began. It comprised of French onion soup, followed by a pate/terrine platter. The main course was a delicious  chicken breast cooked in wine. The dessert was crepe suzette rounded off with a selection of French cheeses.

The event was to raise money for two chosen charities. The first, “The U Foundation”, promotes educational projects and support for rural villages in Zambia. John and Jacqueline Matthews have supported
them for the past eighteen years.

picture of guests of the French night having fun
Guests enjoying the food and company at the Minnis Bay French Night

The second charity, named “Spartan Warrior”, is a small dedicated charity to help military veterans cope with problems such as PTSD. Initially, it was set up to assist on local basis but now is extending its services further afield and into non military situations.

It was nice to see several visitors from other local lodges as well. There was also considerable support from Birchington residents as Minnis Bay Lodge strives to attract the local community when it hosts a non masonic function. The Chairman of Area Eight also attended, along with his wife. and he said a few words about the general idea of Freemasonry raising money for good causes. Overall the night was very successful and raised £440.00 to be shared equally between the two charities.

A couple of "french parisian's" enjoying the evening
The start of the Walk for the group

50 Mile endurance Walk

For the last eighteen years, John Matthews has organised and taken part in a charity walk. Most of the walks were over a distance of around twenty six miles. Traditionally they have been in January to coincide with John’s birthday.
This year was no exception other than the walk was over fifty
miles, spread over five consecutive days. Each day was walk of ten miles and willing volunteers joined in as and when their work commitments allowed. John and one other lady, Shelley, did all five day

The Finish

There were two routes selected for the walks so that if weather
conditions were “very” bad an alternative was available.

The first, and primary, route was from the Birchington Masonic Hall to Reculver and back via the sea defence wall. That is a particularly bleak location as the walkers experienced on three of the five days!

The alternative route was from the Hall up to the main road and walk on to Margate Harbour. The group then turned back along the sea wall to Minnis Bay and finally up the slope to the Hall.

On the last day of the walk, Jacqueline (John’s wife) arranged for the Hall bar to open at 11am in readiness for the walkers to return at an estimated 12.30pm. On their return they enjoyed a lovely welcoming buffet that Jacky had made ready for them.

Quite a few local people were present to greet the walkers on their return.
Some walkers just paid a contribution for the opportunity of walking but John and Shelley raised funds for the same two charities as the recent French Night.

Jointly they have raised over £1100 and funds are still coming in.

The walkers at the finish line, Minnis Bay Lodge, Well Done All

The finishing group at the end of the fifth day of walking. Mike Salter (right ) is from Trinity Lodge.

The walkers on Day 5 of their endurance walk