MGFF History
The Start of the Fete

Notes by the late Bob Hooper,
Southgate Centre

The Fete started shortly after the first formal cricket Match at the Middlesex Provincial Retirement Home soon to become the Princess Alexandra Nursing Home, when the afternoon commenced with a contest and then a B-B-Q run by Ken Beecher, Earl Strafford Lodge ably assisted by John Grummitt of the Enfield Lodge who provided the Teas.

The wicket was prepared on the long grass well before the matting wicket was laid and opened by Brian Ivory in the lovely grounds of the Home later called the Princess Alexandra Homes.

The plans included a Challenge match in the Summer on the 10th July 1988 between the Teams Captained by Leslie Wilson and Ken Reed, with Stephen Moore, Oakwood Lodge as the Captain and provider of the equipment and Bob Hooper Captain of the other - see the Southgate Charity Functions Newsletter for details. Leslie Wilson’s team were the victors in the last over. The Toss-up between these two was made. You may wish to know that this was made using a two pound coin which has pride of place at the Southgate Masonic Centre. The Umpires were Basil Mann and Roy Stephenson—two well recognised Masons.

As a result the funds for the Princess Alexandra Nursing Home were boosted by some £1000 (one thousand pounds) which was well received by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master R W Bro. Gordon Bourne. Mrs Bourne drew the winning ticket for the Weekend in Paris (Courtesy of Intersun). This was won by Bro. Alan Jacobs, Pari Passu Lodge. The Home was visited by many, ably assisted by Mrs S Reed, and Bros. Harold Schurer and Derek Evans.

The following year this was expanded to encompass the other Centres and hence was born the Fete and the Cricket competition. Later the two were held on the Saturday and the Sunday as the crowds attending were too large to be held on the same day.

Paul Lane
Retired Chairman:

I became involved with the fete in 1990. The fete committee in conjunction with the League of Friends from the Home were organising and running the fete and because of my involvement with the catering industry I was asked to assist, by this time Haste Hill Lodge was running the Beer Tent which also provided the food. This was previously run by Roy Sheaf and his wife Megan they also received help from Derek Coles who with his connections to the local football club was able to borrow portable coolers for the draught beer, which we were able to get at reasonable rates from the brewery, Roy looked after the Beer Tent soon to be called the “Café du Paris”, and Megan did a great job providing the food. We would arrive during the week and as a team, which was at this time led by Mitch Michele, we would erect the stalls and Beer tent, I believe the stalls were provided with folding tables and chairs, each stall had a Red or Blue canopy. The beer tent had to be up and running by Saturday morning to host the Provincial Cricket Play as we were required to provide refreshments for the teams and spectators.

We received a lot of support from the staff at to home as we were allowed to use their kitchen to make up the sandwiches Saturday was a fantastic day, it allowed all the volunteers the opportunity to relax once all the hard work setting up was complete, Sunday was great we had lots of entertainment for both kids and adults alike, kiddie round about, Punch and Judy and the infamous kiddie fancy dress. The Birds of Prey display was very popular, Morris Dancers, and Dog Show. Because of its location we were regularly entertained by a fly past of various aircraft, one year I remember we had the D-Day fly past with “Spitfires, Hurricanes’, and the famous Lancaster Bomber” very spectacular. The setting at Stanmore was ideally suited, high on a hill which gave a panoramic view of the country side around you “Breath Taking”

During my chairman ship the home was sold and we moved to the Masonic Centres at both Harrow and Twickenham, with varying degrees of success we could never match the setting in Stanmore. Everyone involved with the fete worked hard to make them successful and I think that Harrow had the biggest successes until it moved to the Girls school at Rickmansworth were it has grown and developed into its current successful format.

John Briggs
Retired Chairman

In 2007 John Briggs took over as Chairman of the fete committee (known as Harrow Fete). The fete expanded from the lawn at the back of the Harrow Centre until it surrounded the whole building. The fete continued to grow and outgrew the space available.

John was very keen on making the fete something for the whole Province, an opportunity to give back something to the members and their families for the work during the year. By kind permission of the head groundsman he moved the fete to the Royal Masonic School for Girls. The new location was more central and accessible to all the Masonic centres and created a greater area for new stalls and events. Soon became known as the Middx Prov Fete

John through his role as charity coordinator managed through the support of the APGMs to actively involve each Masonic centre, bringing the fete from its more humble origins at Stanmore and then Harrow to a truly Provincial event.

John was instrumental in widening the scope of the stalls at the fete to include charity stalls which could promote greater awareness of Charitable organisations in the province. He was also able to get more the various orders in Freemasonry within the Province actively involved including stalls from the Mark Degree, Royal Order of Scotland and the Royal Arch.

Ensuring the fete was fresh and attractive each year was always a challenge. John with the fete committee sought to create a theme each year, for example from a Civil War Enactments with over 50 soldiers to a birds of prey display throughout the day.

The success of the fete grew and grew with lodges talking stalls representing every centre in the Province. The fete became well supported by the Executive and in turn was widely published at other Masonic events. John’s legacy is a professionally organised fete as we know it today, it is for the benefit of all freemasons in the Province which gives something back for all the work during the year and a place that the whole family can enjoy.

The ProProv.GM Roger Croome a couple of years ago was concerned about the widows of members of closed Lodges. The Middlesex Province Relief Fund ( MPRF ) with help from the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, W.Bro. Adrian Howarth then researched the archives and came up with details of Lodges who had closed over the last few years and made enquiries as to the widows of deceased members of those Lodges and their whereabouts. Adrian made arrangements with existing Lodges to look after these widows and arranged that the MPRF would make a payment at Christmas ( currently £40.00 ) to each widow individually via the contact Almoner. At Christmas 2012 just short of 120 cheques were sent out and it is anticipated that 2013 will be nearer 150.

We have received some money from the Fete and also in a few cases from Lodges Benevolent Funds/Relief Chest prior to the final distribution of their Charitable Funds. We do hope that more Lodges will support us and help Masonry to continue helping these widows,