In the Uganda Room aboard P&O’s cruise liner MV Aurora, at 5.45pm on a Sunday afternoon in September, nineteen Freemasons and their ladies, three guest couples and one Masonic Widow, were able to keep Freemasonry Afloat floating by meeting up for a very convivial drinks reception.
Brethren emanated from many different Provinces, and it was particularly pleasing to find that one of them was a Master Mason. It was also cheering that the reception was graced by the presence of the ship’s Captain, Angelo Vago, who was most grateful to receive for his selected charity half of the collection of around £300 that had duly been raised; the other half being routed to the Masonic Samaritan Fund.
The “Freemasonry Afloat” initiative, which to date has generated over £100,000 in charitable donations, was established several years ago by Warwickshire Mason W Bro Trevor Wellings, whereby a record of the events and resolutions is faithfully recorded by the appointed Secretary, in a minute book which is held on board each of the P&O ships. When these become full, they are delivered to the Library and Museum at UGLE headquarters in Great Queen Street, London, where Trevor has arranged for them to rest. This will always depend upon a diligent enthusiast spotting that the minute book is full, and arranging for delivery to London, and of course a new minute book to take its place.
The convivial atmosphere aboard the Aurora was further boosted via a humour flavoured Toast to the Ladies, given by W Bro Arthur MacTier, (who is a member of Mercia Lodge 6246, which meets in Warwick, where he was Master in 1992 and 2009), followed by a response of similar flavour, kindly given by his wife Anne.
A good time was certainly enjoyed by all, and nobody present could ever have been deemed to be like Edward Lear’s old man:
There was an Old Man in a boat,
Who said, 'I'm afloat, I'm afloat!'
When they said, 'No! you ain't!'
He was ready to faint,
That unhappy Old Man in a boat.
Lear’s “A Book of Nonsense” can be seen here