I was very fortunate, just recently, to be asked to take photographs on the occasion of the official launch of the Canal Boat “Community Spirit 2” at Portland Basin in Ashton under Lyne. For those of you who don’t know Ashton, “Community Spirit 2” is run by the East Manchester Community Boat Project, a group who have been providing free days out on the water for Disabled and Disadvantaged groups for more than 23 years. I am equally happy to tell you that Freemasonry, in the form of several of our Lodges and Chapters, individual Masons, and far from least, or last, the powerful aid of the East Lancashire Masonic Charity’s Grant Making Committee, have given a considerable degree of support to the EMCBP in that time.

Mr Warren J Smith, Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, and Councillor Joyce Bowerman, Civic Mayor of Tameside, unveiled a plaque after the boat had been launched.

The day that had been scheduled for the launch of their new boat started out grey and rainy, as we are used to in our part of the Province. However, the fact that the launching was to be performed by Mr. Warren J. Smith KStJ JP DLitt LLD, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and thus the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen, as well as by Councillor Mrs Joyce Bowerman, the Civic Mayor of Tameside, ensured that the canal side was crowded by supporters, Trustees and Members of the EMCBP. You’ll be happy to know that the Freemasons were very ably represented on the day by WBro Brian Carter, who is a Committee Member of the ELMC’s Grant Making Committee.

WBro Brian Carter, representing the Grant Making Committee of the ELMC, shown together with the principal guests

The introductions were performed by Mr Nigel Anderson who is the President of the EMCBP, as well as being a Trustee and one of its Founding Members. He explained that after using the original “Community Spirit” for twenty years, it was decided, three years ago, to replace the original boat with a new, purpose built craft in order to better meet the needs of the users. This is not the place to describe in detail the epic task of raising the necessary funds to do this work, but it was only achieved by application to a number of major grant making bodies in our Region, one of which was the ELMC.

Mr Nigel Anderson, President of the EMCBP

I am sure that the ELMC was not the biggest donor in this project, but our donation of £4,000.00 made it possible to install a “Scissor Lift” on the boat which allows full access by all wheelchair users, a very significant group in the Project’s user base. In addition, any number of smaller donations, over an extended period of time, mean that the various groups of Freemasons have had an impact on the project well beyond their numbers. In addition a few of our brethren take an active part in the operation of the “Community Spirit 2”. WBro Brian Reynolds of Lodge of Fidelity No 430 in Ashton is a Crew Member and WBro Jim Strudwick of Robert Burns Lodge No 999 in Salford who is Treasurer and a Trustee of the Project as well as being a Skipper on the boat.

WBro Jim Strudwick of Robert Burns Lodge No 999 who is a Trustee of the EMCBP as well as being it’s Treasurer and one of its Skippers


After the formal launch of the “Community Spirit 2” had been performed by the Lord Lieutenant, ably assisted by Councillor Bowerman, we were taken on a short trip in the boat to see how well she performed. I have no doubt that we all wish the East Manchester Community Boat Project much success in the future, and I have no doubt that the ELMC will continue to support them in their future aims.



Photographs and Text by ©WBro Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley